Environmental activists celebrate closure of three German nuclear reactors

Anti-nuclear protesters in the northern German town of Kiel hung up a thousand origami birds representing a decades-long call to end the use of nuclear power across the country.

Three of the country’s nuclear reactors will be shut down on Saturday but Germany is still grappling with the issue of where to put its nuclear waste.

“We think that using high-risk technology that we can’t control for sure without temporary or even final storage is very, very wrong,” said Martina Gremler, a public relations officer for the NGO BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany.

The use of renewable energy has significantly increased since Germany decided it would stop relying on nuclear plants.

The meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 led to safety concerns in Germany even among previous supporters of nuclear power. The incident prompted the former government to announce the shutdown of all nuclear reactors by 2022.

But the deadline was delayed after the war in Ukraine led to major concerns over possible shortages and rising prices for energy.

Supporters of nuclear power maintain the reactors could be used to decrease overhead costs for Germany’s industries but have also acknowledged the need to boost different forms of renewable energy.

However it will take a long time to create enough green solutions to balance the country’s needs, says  Klaus Wiener, an MP for the Christian Democrats: “Renewable energy will play a large role in Germany. My concern is that this will take time. We need a huge amount of energy, given the transformation that we see. So really building the capacity that we need will take years, in my view probably a decade.”

Campaigners say the shutdown of nuclear plants on Saturday is a big accomplishment and have vowed to continue the fight against financial investments in nuclear power across Europe.

“Instead of spending money on nuclear plants and making more nuclear waste, we should put this money into the development of renewable energies, it’s better and it’s cleaner,” said Gremler.

More protests will be held on Saturday near the three nuclear plants.

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