It won't be long before nuclear power will be history in the Federal Republic of Germany. Of the six nuclear power plants that are still running, three are due to go offline at the end of this year, and the last three then End 2022. Germany will be broadcasting soon, right? Not quite.
Not far from the city of Lingen with its picturesque stepped gables and half-timbered houses is a so-called fuel element plant: a factory that produces the fuel for nuclear power plants, so to speak. And that for quite a long time: The operator Advanced Nuclear Fuels (ANF), one Germany daughter of the French state company Framatome, has contracts according to its own information until 2032. As of today.
So while Germany is pulling out of nuclear power, the plant in Emsland, Lower Saxony, is busy producing fuel rods - and exporting them to other EU countries. To Belgium, for example, to the Doel nuclear power plant, where in 2015 around 13.000 cracks had been discovered. Doel is only around 160 kilometers from the German border.
The Federal Environment Ministry has found this to be impossible and fordert the closure of the factory. The Federal Ministry of Economics can at least officially see no contradiction. "The nuclear phase-out relates to the commercial generation of electricity in nuclear power plants," it writes on request, "not to the production of fuel elements."
But now there is new quarrel about the Lingen nuclear factory. ANF apparently wants to expand production - and is planning a joint venture with the Russian company TVEL. According to SPIEGEL information, the Russians want to acquire 25 percent of the shares. This, in turn, is not only a concern in the Ministry of the Environment.
Did the polonium in the Litvinenko murder come from TVEL?
According to Section 55 of the Foreign Trade Law, TVEL's involvement could pose a threat to public order. Because TVEL is subordinate to the Russian state company Rosatom, which produces both civil and military nuclear technology. From the point of view of British investigators In addition, the polonium-210, which was used for the murder of ex-KGB agent and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, came from the Russian TVEL site Mayak. The company left a request on this allegation unanswered.
»Basically, the control of an acquirer from a third country - like here Russia - a possible indication of a risk if the company is at least indirectly controlled by the state, "says business lawyer Christoph Herrmann, who advised the federal government on the development of foreign trade law.
"It would also be problematic if the company was already involved in activities that endangered public safety or order in the FRG or in another EU member state," continues Herrmann. Both could be the case with TVEL. Since the Russians are aiming for a share of 25 percent, the Ministry of Economic Affairs could even ban the Russians' involvement.
This is exactly what the ministry is currently examining. Officially, the employees of Peter Altmaier (CDU) from all inquiries. At first they did not even want to report to Parliament's Environment Committee; the subject was kept secret, it was said. According to SPIEGEL information, a so-called investment review process has long been running to examine the joint venture between ANF and TVEL.
Will the nuclear phase-out become even more expensive?
This is welcomed in the environmentalists' camp. According to administrative lawyer Wolfgang Ewer, the entry of the Russians in Lingen might have another disadvantage. From his point of view, there is a risk that the state would have to pay significantly higher compensation because of the TVEL commitment if it at some point allows the factory to be shut down. After all, the entry of the Russians is "obviously aimed at increasing equity and investing in the factory."
The German nuclear phase-out would then be even more expensive. Most recently, the government paid 2,4 billion euros in compensation to the operators of German nuclear power plants in March have to shoot again.
"The Ministry of Economic Affairs is shamelessly hindering and making the nuclear phase-out more expensive," says Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, spokeswoman for nuclear policy for the Greens and chairwoman of the Environment Committee. The factory in Lingen must finally be closed.