PanamaTimes

Monday, Apr 22, 2024

As Germany ends nuclear era, activist says there is still more to do

As Germany ends nuclear era, activist says there is still more to do

Heinz Smital was a 24-year-old nuclear physics researcher when he first saw how far nuclear contamination could spread after the Chornobyl disaster in 1986.

A few days after it occurred he waved a damp cloth out of a window at the University of Vienna to sample the city's air and was shocked by how many radionuclides could be seen under a microscope.

"Technetium, Cobalt, Cesium 134, Cesium 137 ...Chornobyl was 1,000 kilometres away ... That made an impression," Smital, now 61, said as he told Reuters about his life-long activism against nuclear power in Germany.

On Saturday Germany will shut off its last three reactors, ending six decades of nuclear power which helped spawn one of Europe's strongest protest movements and the political party that governs Berlin today, the Greens.

"I can look back on a great many successes where I saw injustice and many years later, there was a breakthrough," Smital said, showing a photo of himself in 1990s in front of the Unterweser Nuclear Power Plant, which was closed in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to Fukushima by doing what no other Western leader had done, passing a law to exit nuclear by 2022.

An estimated 50,000 protesters in Germany formed a 45-kilometre long (27-mile) human chain after the Fukushima disaster from Stuttgart to the Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Plant. Merkel would announce Germany's planned nuclear exit within weeks.

"We really stood hand in hand at a certain point in time. I was also in the chain ... It was impressive how that formed," Smital said.

"That was a great feeling of a movement and also of belonging ...a very nice, communal, exciting feeling that also develops a power," Smital said.

One of the long-running movement's early successes came in the 1970s when it managed to get plans for a nuclear plant in Wyhl in western Germany overturned.


THE GREENS


In parallel, a divided Germany during the Cold War also saw a peace movement evolve amid concerns among Germans that their land could become a battlefield between the two camps.

"This produced a strong peace movement and the two movements reinforced each other," said Nicolas Wendler, a spokesperson for Germany's nuclear technology industry group KernD.

Moving from street protests to organised political work with the establishment of the Greens party in 1980 gave the movement more power.

It was a Greens-coalition government that introduced the country's first nuclear phase-out law in 2002.

"The nuclear phase-out is a Greens project ... and all parties have practically adopted it," said Rainer Klute, head of pro-nuclear non-profit association Nuklearia.

On Saturday, both Smital and Klute stood as protesters at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, one celebrating the end of nuclear power, the other lamenting its demise.

"We have no other choice but to accept the phase-out for the time being," Klute said.

Yet for Smital, the reactor closures do not mean the end of his activism.

"We have a uranium fuel assemblies factory in Germany ... we have uranium enrichment, so there is still a lot that needs to be discussed here and I will be on the street a lot ...very gladly," he said.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×