by William Walker
Queen's Park Bureau Chief
Bill Farlinger announced officially that Hydro would close seven nuclear reactors over the next year and repair others over the next three years, costing up to $8 billion.
It comes in the wake of a report that concluded that "over several decades, Ontario Hydro has not maintained a consistent, long-term vision of how its nuclear assets should be maintained and operated."
And Farlinger was brutally honest in describing why it took so long for systemic problems in the giant utility's massive nuclear division to finally come to light.
"I'll give you my own theory: that the nuclear unit was operated over all those early years as some sort of special nuclear cult. I'm told this is not that unusual in utilities elsewhere in the world," he said.
"Senior management didn't dig into what was going on in this special unit to the extent we might now say they should have. Nuclear was something different; (it was felt) it shouldn't be probed as deeply as other business units," Farlinger continued.
"It became evident a year and a half ago when Pickering went down (with safety problems highlighted by the Atomic Energy Control Board, Hydro's federal regulator) that there was some real trouble. That was when non-nuclear senior management and the board took extensive interest in this thing."
The report by U.S. nuclear power experts, commissioned by Hydro and released yesterday, shattered the myth that Hydro's nuclear division was among the world's elite.
"It's acceptable to cut corners, it is not acceptable to make waves," the report concludes in describing Hydro's nuclear division culture.
Hydro president and chief executive officer Allan Kupcis abruptly quit Tuesday because of the report.
And Farlinger said yesterday he expects more firings and resignations of managers in the 10,000-member nuclear division at Hydro.
Environment Minister Norm Sterling said that while politicians at Queen's Park are responsible for Hydro, they appear to have been left in the dark.
Sterling said he believes Hydro developed a "culture that is not open enough and that is not acceptable" to the government.
"I think previous governments were burned in terms of the openness of Ontario Hydro (about nuclear problems)," Sterling said.
"There have been periods of time even during the past two years when we were not satisfied with (Hydro's) openness and we have requested and taken action to develop protocols as to how information should flow," he said.
Premier Mike Harris echoed dissatisfaction with Hydro's apparent "cult" culture.
"I think there has been a management mentality at Hydro that has been rather insular, not subject to any competition, not subject to any peer review from other nuclear industries around the world. It was thought, `We're doing okay.' And I think they honestly felt that," Harris told reporters.
"This report says they may have felt that, but they were wrong."
As to whether that means Hydro should be privatized - as the Tories are considering - to force a more open culture, Harris shrugged.
"I don't think the nuclear plants are saleable today. We're going to fix the nuclear plants."
Harris added: "I think this is not a good day, not a good week for Ontario Hydro. It appears the chickens are coming home to roost. It's not been well run. It's not been well managed."
"The good news is that I have confidence in this (Hydro) board. They initiated this study eight months ago realizing things weren't excellent at Ontario Hydro.
"The good thing is that they've laid out a game plan to take our nuclear plants from okay, or just safe if you like, to excellence. That's the board's goal and the government would certainly concur with that," Harris said.
"The first priority is safety in Ontario. The second is to get Hydro management and operations on the nuclear side to where we are on top instead of in the lower half."
Asked if private-sector companies of Hydro's size could have hidden such problems over an extended period of time, Harris' answer was blunt.
"I doubt that they could have covered it up as much as it appears to have been in the public sector in Ontario," the Premier said.
Farlinger said he agrees - and has since before he joined the utility - that Hydro should be in a competitive energy market with private-sector utilities and that the corporate structure at Hydro would benefit from that.
The concern about Hydro's focus on nuclear energy goes back decades.
Dating back to the 1970s, Hydro nuclear advocates were constantly on the defensive in the face of opposition from environmental activists who wanted no part of nuclear power.
At a breathtaking rate, Hydro went on to build the largest nuclear reactor program in North America, with major stations at Pickering; at Bruce, near Kincardine; and at Darlington, east of Oshawa near Clarington.
So massive and ambitious was the program that Hydro eventually became reliant on nuclear power for up to 60 per cent of the province's needs.
In the meantime, the reactors kept getting bigger and bigger, and more and more expensive. The Bruce reactors were larger than those built earlier at Pickering; the Darlington reactors were so huge they dwarfed the size of Bruce's.
Darlington ended up costing the utility about $14 billion to construct. That added to an enormous Hydro debt now pegged at $33 billion, about one-third of the debt of the entire province of Ontario.
In 1983, an accident at a Pickering nuclear reactor shattered the CANDU reactor safety theory of "leak before break." That theory meant that before a nuclear meltdown could occur, water or steam would leak inside a CANDU, triggering safety systems that would shut down a reactor.
But when a pressure tube ruptured at Pickering in 1983 and highly radioactive fuel pellets went missing inside the reactor, it showed that a break could occur before safety systems kicked in.
At first, Hydro vehemently denied media reports that the Pickering reactors would need to have pressure tubes replaced - similar to dropping a new engine into a car - at a cost of billions of dollars.
In the end, that's exactly what happened.
Toronto Star, page A24
In the near future, Turkey will decide whether to purchase two CANDU reactors from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), or from one of two other vendors bidding for a nuclear station at Akkuyu Bay on the Mediterranean. There are economic, environmental, safety, and ethical reasons why Canada should not sell reactors to Turkey. For Canadian taxpayers, there's a huge economic risk. For Turkey, it's a potential environmental disaster and a bad investment -- in 1997, CANDU reactors had the worst performance in the world among major reactor types.
Since 1952, taxpayer subsidies to AECL have totaled $15 billion (1997 dollars, as opposed to dollars-of-the-year, which conceals the real value). The opportunity cost (what the money's worth if it had been invested in profitable ventures) is over $160 billion. CANDU exports cannot possibly recoup this massive loss. AECL continues to receive $100 million per year, plus other disguised subsidies, and the Chretien cabinet has agreed that taxpayers will provide $1.5 billion in financing for the Turkish deal. Turkey is a bad investment risk, with 95% annual inflation and an unstable democracy dominated by the army. Private financiers would never accept this risk that has been forced on Canadian taxpayers.
AECL will have to make concessions to win, since its bid is over $250 million higher than the lowest bidder. AECL will likely offer technology transfer, as well as possibly agreeing to a barter system of loan repayment known as counter-trade. The costs are high and the benefits low. AECL typically exaggerates the employment and economic spin-offs of reactor exports. In reality the Akkuyu contract could represent about 2,500 full time jobs in Canada for three to five years. This is a microscopic return for a huge, risky investment.
Earthquakes can cause multiple system failures in nuclear plants, leading to catastrophic accidents. On June 27, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred 136 km east of Akkuyu causing 140 deaths, and on July 4, another earthquake (magnitude 5.1) took place 121 km away. AECL claims that a CANDU station would be safe at Akkuyu, but it has refused to release any studies. Dr. Attila Ulug, a prominent Turkish geologist, notes that the Ecemis fault lies very near Akkuyu, and has demanded further research before any plant proceeds. The Chretien cabinet secretly changed the Environmental Assessment Act in 1996 to avoid assessments on reactor exports, so it may be impossible to ever settle this issue.
Ignoring the lessons of Iraq, India and Pakistan, the government denies the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation in Turkey. Elements of the Turkish military and the state nuclear commission have already said they are interested in the "strategic" value of a nuclear program. CANDU sales to Turkey will fan the flames of a middle eastern nuclear arms race, which already includes Israel, Iran and Iraq.
Then there are the human rights abuses, which have kept Turkey out of the European Union. A civil war with Kurds has cost over 20,000 lives since 1984. Last May, state forces were implicated in a brutal attack on human rights champion Akin Birdal. Incapacitated with 12 bullet wounds, Birdal was sentenced in August to one year in prison for supporting peace talks with Kurdish separatists.
There are cheaper, cleaner and safer ways to generate electricity. Renewable energy and efficiency are the real solutions to global warming, and natural gas is a relatively clean transitional fuel. Canada should cut its losses and withdraw AECL's bid. Turkey would be far better off.
David H. Martin is the Research Director of Nuclear Awareness Project, a non-profit environmental organization based in Uxbridge, Ontario.
He gave a speaking tour in Turkey last March, visiting the proposed site of the Akkuyu nuclear plant and meeting with local groups, opposed to the construction of a nuclear plant.
Canada has bid to sell two CANDU reactors to Turkey. There are many reasons why Canadians should support CANDU exports. However, to better understand this issue, one must point out a contradiction that environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Nuclear Awareness Project find themselves in.
The United Nations Environment Program has identified carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels as the ''largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.'' Many of these emissions are created by burning coal, oil and natural gas to generate electricity. Turkey's electricity-related CO2 emissions are about 162 billion tons per year.
Annual CO2 discharges from a CANDU reactor? Zero. Why do environmental groups campaign for reductions of CO2 emissions and then contradict themselves with their rigid opposition to CANDU exports, when the environmental benefits are so enormous? A 1,000 megawatt coal plant will also produce hundreds of thousands of tons of ash and sulfur emissions that cause air pollution and acid rain. CANDU reactors do not produce emissions that cause air pollution or acid rain.
What about wind power? Estimates are, to provide electricity to Toronto and its neighbouring communities (4.5 million residents), wind generators covering a land mass four times the size of Prince Edward Island, or an area of land stretching from Toronto to Montreal, would be required. If that doesn't sound practical for Toronto, imagine how impractical that would be in the developing world, where it is common to have a city of 10 million people living in an area similar in size to that of Toronto.
Concerned about nuclear weapon proliferation? Canada exports CANDU technology only to those countries that sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Under the NPT, countries that purchase CANDU reactors must open their facilities to regular inspections by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, which ensures nuclear technology is used for peaceful purposes.
Before countries can purchase CANDU technology they must sign a Nuclear Co-operation Agreement (NCA) with Canada, a legally binding document. The NCA fully meets Canada's strict nuclear non-proliferation requirements and stringent conditions that CANDU technology be used for only the peaceful purpose of electricity.
Canada earns both profit and wealth on CANDU exports, with most benefits going to private sector companies. Past exports of CANDU technology have resulted in more than 150 private sector Canadian companies, mostly in Ontario, being contracted to provide goods and services. More than 20 Canadian companies have obtained contracts that are worth in excess of $10 million each for CANDU exports to South Korea.
The recent sale of two CANDU reactors to China will create over 27,000 direct and indirect person years of work in Canada over the life of the project. These are well-paying jobs for highly educated Canadians, which generate substantial consumer spending and taxation revenue. The Canadian nuclear industry contributes an annual benefit of about $6 billion to Canada's Gross Domestic Product.
Canada's CANDU technology is recognized as one of the world's safest designs. CANDU reactors have two independent safety shut-down systems. Each system is capable of shutting down the reactor on its own. These are linked to a performance monitoring system. For example, if an earthquake were to cause a change in the performance of the reactor -- such as loss of pressure in a pipe -- this would be detected by the safety systems and the reactor would be automatically and safely shut down.
CANDU reactors are designed and have been proven to withstand earthquakes and operate safely. CANDU reactors provide clean, safe electricity. CANDU reactors are green energy for blue skies.
Larry Shewchuk is the manager of corporate media relations for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, which designs and sells CANDU reactors.
Foreign Service - page A26
by Steven PearlsteinOTTAWA: In its latest challenge to U.S. foreign policy, Canada is considering asking NATO to revamp its battlefield strategy and forswear the first use of nuclear weapons.
Next week, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons is set to meet behind closed doors to consider the issue at the urging of Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, a longtime opponent of nuclear weapons.
Although Canada has always declined to build nuclear weapons of its own, it remains an active member of the NATO alliance, whose doctrines call for the use of tactical nuclear weapons as a last resort in the defense of Europe, even against a conventional military attack.
Government sources said Axworthy would like to initiate a public discussion of the issue in hopes of prodding the alliance into adopting a "no first use" strategy at the NATO meeting scheduled for next April.
Defense experts predicted this week that Axworthy is likely to get a friendly hearing from the new government in Germany, where the anti-nuclear Greens party is part of the new left-of-center coalition.
But any change in policy is strongly opposed by the United States and NATO's top military planners, who argue that NATO's nuclear missiles remain a powerful and successful deterrent to attacks on Western Europe.
In Washington, a State Department official said it is aware of the Canadian discussions, adding, "We don't feel it's time now to adjust NATO's nuclear policy. . . . We just don't want to open up that box right now."
Axworthy, a former academic and a vocal critic of old-fashioned Realpolitik, has become something of a thorn in the side of U.S. policymakers. Last year, he successfully outmaneuvered the United States and, with the help of Nobel-prize winning activists, secured passage of a global treaty banning the use of land mines. Washington has refused to sign the treaty, largely out of concern that mines are still needed to protect South Korea from attack.
And in recent months, Axworthy has led the way in pressing for creation of a strong new International Criminal Court with broad powers to punish those who commit war crimes. The United States opposes creation of the new tribunal because of fears that it could be used unfairly against U.S. soldiers sent abroad on peace-keeping missions.
Axworthy's campaign also got a recent boost when Canada assumed one of the rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council. In campaigning for the position, he called for a new era of "soft power" in the world of diplomacy and security, one that "relies more on negotiation rather than coercion, powerful ideas rather than powerful weapons."
William Graham, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said it is not clear yet whether the panel would embrace a "no first use" nuclear policy for NATO, despite its majority from Axworthy's Liberal Party. Members of the main opposition party, the conservative Reform Party, are said to oppose it, while the left-leaning New Democratic Party favors it.
LONDON - The British government's nuclear experts have said Britain needs to address the problem of radioactive waste, preferably by burying it.
"The Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee's (RWMAC) advice is supplied against a backdrop of uncertain government policy for the long-term management of the UK's intermediate level radioactive waste," the group said in a statement on Tuesday.
Reiterating advice it gave the government in February, the independent committee said deep disposal undergournd was the "only tenable" means of dealing with intermediate waste.
In March 1997 plans for a deep disposal site in Cumbria, northwest England, failed when planning permission was refused by the local government authority.
RWMAC's latest report said there should be increased research into packaging intermediate level waste irrespective of any policy decision on ultimate disposal.
A spokeswoman at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions said the government would respond to the report once a House of Lords select committee concludes an inquiry into waste management.
"The Lord's report will probably be out by the end of the year but the timing is up to the Lords," she said.
ZURICH - The Swiss government on Thursday postponed setting a deadline for shutting the country's five nuclear power plants, asking instead for a compromise on the controversial issue.
The Federal Council, or cabinet, said the plants would be decommissioned at some point but asked their owners, environmental critics and local communities to agree on a time frame.
Energy and Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger, presenting the results of a special cabinet meeting on energy policy, said ministers had also extended the operating licence for one of the oldest nuclear stations, Muehleberg, by ten years to 2012.
Leuenberger has been working for months to find a consensus on the life-cycle for Switzerland's five nuclear plants, which went on line between 1969 and 1984.
"The existing nuclear plants have to go out of service someday. They were built with the view that they have to be decommissioned someday," Leuenberger said.
"This retreat must be done in an orderly way and we have to know what the deadlines are for decommissioning, for our own energy policy, so that we can organise substitute energy," he told Swiss radio DRS.
But utilities and their critics are divided over the question of how long existing nuclear facilities should be allowed to operate. Power providers say the plants can be refitted for longer lives.
Swiss voters, alarmed by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, voted in a 1990 referendum to impose a 10-year moratorium on new atomic power stations.
Leuenberger said the cabinet had also decided to require a referendum to approve any future atomic power plants.
"One can't really imagine that new power plants would be built in the face of the large opposition that comes up every time," the minister said.
"But you cannot say how the technology or people's political opinion will develop. This can change over time, so there wil be a referendum and people can vote on it," he said.
WASHINGTON - A half-dozen U.S. utilities are willing to each pay an estimated $10 million to extend licenses for ageing nuclear power plants because it is cheaper than building new natural gas or coal plants, the head of the Nuclear Energy Institute said Thursday.
Earlier this year, Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and Duke Energy Co. became the first U.S. utilities to ask federal regulators to extend their nuclear plant operating licenses.
"Industry executives from another half dozen utilities have indicated they will follow with license extension applications," Joe Colvin, president of the institute, told reporters. "Extending the licenses of existing nuclear plants is less expensive - and more efficient - than building any type of new plants."
A typical nuclear power that is coming to the end of its operating license will need to spend about $10 million in upgrades and fees to win approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
For a 1,000 megawatt plant, that translates into a cost of about $10 per kilowatt for a nuclear plant, Colvin said. Building a similar sized new natural gas-fired plant would cost about $440 per kwh and a coal-fired plant about $1,000 per kwh.
With another international round of global warming talks coming up in less than two weeks, the U.S. nuclear industry is also pressing the Clinton Administration to let it share in a proposed emissions trading scheme.
Nations will meet in Buenos Aires to discuss the U.N.-sponsored Kyoto Treaty that would require industrialised nations to slash emissions of greenhouse gases by 2008. The Clinton Administration wants to establish a U.S. system for trading emissions credits to help utilities and industry meet the reduction target.
"Tradable credits should be earned not only on the basis of reduced emissions, but as a function of displaced emissions as well," Colvin said. The proposed emissions trading would let a coal-fired utility exceed its pollution limit by purchasing emissions savings from other companies.
BRUSSELS - The European Commission shares nuclear industry fears that Western conditions for aid to close Chernobyl will be so strict that Kiev will turn instead to donors with lower safety norms, a senior official said on Tuesday.
"Foratom says the point of departure for (calculating) costs and the conditions attached are too strict. We share to a great extent the concerns of Foratom," the official told Reuters, referring to concerns of the European nuclear lobby group.
The Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations and the Commission - the European Union's executive - have pledged $2 billion to close the Chernobyl plant by 2000, half of which has already been released. They have asked international financial institutions, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), for assistance.
The Chernobyl programme entails not only rehousing the crumbling sarcophagus surrounding the plant's reactor 4, which exploded in 1986 in the world's worst nuclear disaster, but also completing two new nuclear plants and developing alternative energy supplies.
Foratom said recently the conditions imposed by the EBRD for releasing loans for the completion of the new plants, Khmelnitsi unit 2 (K2) and Rovno unit 4 (R4), were so demanding that Ukraine, which it said was "teetering on the brink of political and economic collapse", would be unable to meet them.
If the loans were not granted, there was a danger Kiev would decide not to close Chernobyl and complete K2 and R4 with aid from Russia "to a safety level which is less than Western standards".
Breach of Ukraine's pledge to close Chernobyl might then lead to the G7 suspending funding for the new sarcophagus, Foratom predicted.
The official said the Commission had expressed concerns to the EBRD and asked the bank to review its calculations of the cost of completing K2 and R4 - $1.7 billion, compared to Kiev's calculation of $700 million.
He said there was no way the Commission could prevent Kiev from rejecting Western aid in favour of Russian or other support, except by exerting pressure through the EBRD and the G7.
But he said he thought it unlikely Moscow would step into any potential breach because it simply did not have the money available to fund Ukraine's nuclear safety needs.
LONDON - Green energy in Britain is set to cost almost the same as electricity generated from fossil fuel sources, a government minister announced on Monday.
Energy Minister John Battle said a programme of 261 environmentally friendly generation projects involving windfarms and hydro plants should be able to produce electricity at around 2.71p per kilowatt hour compared with an average pool price of 2.67p per kilowatt from fossil and nuclear fuel sources.
"Capable of generating nearly 1,200 megawatt hours, about the same size as a large power station, these projects represent the most extensive boost for green energy since the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation scheme started in 1990," Battle said.
An extra 1.4 million British homes could be powered by renewable energy as a result of the projects, the minister said.
A major stumbling block that has slowed the growth of renewable energy is its cost compared with generating electricity from traditional fuels.
The 261 schemes spread throughout the country represent investment of between 16 and 23 million pounds a year, a spokeswoman at the Department of Trade and Industry said.
In contrast the total investment in the British oil and gas sector was 4.4 billion pounds in 1997 according to DTI figures.
Britain's Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) scheme requires public electricity suppliers in England and Wales to buy electricity from generators using renewable sources of energy.
By Mark John
BONN - Germany's Social Democrats and Greens took a further step towards coalition government on Thursday by agreeing a plan to shut down nuclear power stations.
But party negotiators said the two had so far found no way round another stumbling block, demands by the Greens for heavy new "ecology taxes" on petrol and other fuels.
The decision to scrap nuclear power follows Wednesday's agreement by the two propective partners to reform Germany's antiquated, bloodline-based citizenship laws, a move welcomed by minority groups but sharply attacked by right-wing rivals.
The deal on citizenship reform was widely expected. But the two parties were seen falling out on how quickly they can phase out the country's 19 nuclear power stations, which provide around a third of its electricity.
Under the agreed plan, the SPD and Greens will offer talks to the nuclear industry on running down the power plants, some of which still have 45 years of their working life to run.
If no agreement is reached with industry, Chancellor-elect Gerhard Schroeder's planned "red-green" coalition will legislate anyway, said Juergen Trittin of the Greens, tipped as the next environment minister.
"At latest a year after the new government takes office, the coalition will set a legal limit for the life of nuclear power stations," he told reporters in Bonn.
Shares in utility companies fell on Thursday. Viag closed down 24 marks at 1,129 marks and RWE AG, Germany's largest electric company, fell 4.10 marks to 84.90. Energy companies have said they might sue for compensation.
Greens politicians, many of whom will be disappointed the nuclear pull-out will not start immediately, called on the SPD to back higher energy taxes.
Schroeder has said he will not increase the cost of a litre of petrol, now around 1.50 marks, by more than six pfennigs a litre next year - well short of Greens demands.
"The SPD must come up with proposals on how we can finance the agreed cut in social security costs," Greens finance expert Fritz Kuhn told Reuters.
SPD and Greens politicians enter another round of talks on Friday before a final, weekend-long session which is due to culminate in the announcement of a programme for government by next Monday.
Assuming this is approved by party delegates, Schroeder will be confirmed as chancellor on October 27.
An SPD-Greens plan to make it easier for many of the country's some seven million foreigner residents to become German on Thursday received a predictably split response, with outgoing Chancellor Helmut Kohl's conservative alliance among the sharpest critics.
"The march into the left-wing republic has started," said Peter Hintze, general secretary of Kohl's Christian Democrats, who were defeated in last month's election.
But Turkish leaders, representing Germany's largest ethnic minority, welcomed the planned reforms, which enable dual citizenship for the first time and allow citizenship after eight years of residency rather than the current 15.
"This is a serious signal saying: 'We want to integrate you'," said Murat Cakir, the head of the Federal Council of Foreigners, a lobby group representing foreigners' interests.
ESSEN, Germany - RWE Energie AG said on Thursday the chances of reaching a consensus on energy policy with the new government would be hurt by any preconditions calling for an end to nuclear power.
The group, Germany's largest electric company, said it was willing to talk with the Social Democrats and environmentaalist Greens party about a future course for nuclear power plants.
But deciding the nuclear question beforehand would burden any negotiations, said RWE Energie spokesman Hermann Venghaus.
"We have always been ready for consensus talks," he told Reuters.
He declined to comment further on reports that the SPD and junior coalition partner Greens have agreed to ban nuclear energy and plan to request a corresponding plan from industry within a year.
"We are waiting for the written coalition agreement," he said.
PreussenElektra AG, a utility owned by diversified group Veba AG, declined to comment.
On Wednesday, Viag AG, Germany's third major utilities group, rejected a Greens proposal to shut down nuclear plants when they reach 20 years in service.
That limit would mean an almost immediate shut down of half of Germany's nuclear plants. Of the 19 currently in use, 10 have been in operation for 19 or more years. Six others are 14 to 17 years old, and three are 10 to 12 years old.
"We could justify a lifetime of 35 to 40 years to shareholders. Anything less would be a pure destruction of capital and would be indefensible economically," Viag Chief Exeucitve Wilhelm Simson said in an article in Wirtschaftswoche, a business weekly.
A shut down would take the heaviest toll on Viag's Bayernwerk AG, which gets 63 percent of its power from atomic reactors. PreussenElektra gets 40 percent of its power from such plants, and RWE 29 percent.
The 19 plants generate 35 percent of the nation's electricity.
SPD member Wolfgang Thierse said earlier on Thursday that the coalition wanted to have negotiations on an atomic shut-down within a year.
The Red-Green coalition is due to take over later this month after Chancellor Helmut Kohl's defeat in September 27 elections.