"Cracks in the tubes": Doubts about the safety of the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant

Economics Minister Habeck only wants to connect two nuclear power plants to the grid again in winter in the event of a power shortage.

"Cracks in the tubes": Doubts about the safety of the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant

Economics Minister Habeck only wants to connect two nuclear power plants to the grid again in winter in the event of a power shortage. But with Isar 2, a decision has to be made earlier due to maintenance work. At Neckarwestheim 2 there should be cracks in the tubes.

After the operators in the Bavarian Isar 2 nuclear power plant reported a need for repairs, opponents of nuclear power drew attention to cracks in the pipes in the Neckarwestheim 2 nuclear power plant in Baden-Württemberg. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck had actually planned both power plants for reserve operation in winter and announced a short-term decision depending on the supply situation. For Neckarwestheim, the activists questioned the state environment ministry's operating license for the kiln. For years now, large numbers of new, dangerous cracks have been forming on thin-walled pipes, they warned.

The anti-nuclear power organization ".aussendung" and the Bund der Bürgerinitiativen Mittlerer Neckar (BBMN) wrote about Neckarwestheim: "If only one of the approximately 16,000 pipes burst, ripped off or broke due to such a crack, this would already be a difficult situation dominant loss-of-coolant accident." This could lead to a meltdown in the "crack reactor". The operator EnBW has so far failed to provide evidence of precautions to be able to rule out a leak from the tubes. The Mannheim Administrative Court will negotiate on December 14th about the approval for the operation of Neckarwestheim, it said.

The dispute escalated over the future of the Isar 2 nuclear power plant, which was also planned for the reserve. The CSU pushed for a quick decision on the future of the plant. "The valves in question could be repaired - as has been the case up to now on a regular basis during revisions," said the CSU environmental politician Anja Weisgerber to the newspapers of the Funke media group. "Finally clear decisions through the traffic lights" are required for this.

The valve leak would obviously have to be repaired by October at the latest, because the reactor core would then no longer have enough reactivity to be able to start up the nuclear plant again with the existing fuel elements. This also eliminates the option of initially taking the power plant off the grid at the end of December, as previously planned as part of the nuclear phase-out, and starting it up again in January or February if necessary. Without valve repair, safe operation would only be possible until the end of the year, and there would be no option for reserve operation for the rest of the winter.

Weisgerber again called for the continued operation of all three German nuclear power plants still in operation until at least the end of 2024. This would also affect the Lingen nuclear power plant in Lower Saxony, which according to Habeck's proposals should definitely go offline at the end of December. The Greens had made allegations against the operator of Isar 2, Preussen Elektra, and against the Bavarian authorities on Tuesday because they had not informed about the valve leak earlier. Weisgerber dismissed this as a "diversionary tactic".

Politicians of the FDP also pushed for an extension of the term. The decision to let Isar 2 and the other two other nuclear power plants run longer must be made quickly, "preferably this month," said FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai of the "Bild" newspaper. FDP leader Christian Lindner also reiterated his demand for longer nuclear power plant run times in the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung".

The managing director of the German Environmental Aid, Sascha Müller-Kraenner, assessed the leak in the Isar 2 nuclear power plant as evidence of the risk of further nuclear power plant operation. As the "only logical consequence" he called for "a comprehensive security check and until then a stop to operations" on Twitter.

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