Why delay in phasing out nuclear power is dividing German village

(The Guardian, 9 Dec 2022) Neckarwestheim’s nuclear power station was granted a stay of execution due to Russia’s weaponisation of gas, but some would like the extension to be permanent

On a slope above the river Neckar in south-west Germany, about 25 miles (40km) from Stuttgart, stands the village of Neckarwestheim, its red terracotta roofs surrounded by vineyards and farmers’ fields, with streets leading to a central market square.

So far, so typical for a rural community in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. However, this settlement of 4,200 residents has one defining characteristic: it is located right next to one of Germany’s three remaining nuclear power stations.

The challenges facing this picturesque village illustrate how the energy crisis is affecting Europe’s largest economy, as Russia’s weaponisation of the gas supply has complicated Germany’s planned transition away from nuclear.

On a crisp, clear autumn day, clouds of steam rise from the Neckarwestheim nuclear plant’s pressurised water reactor, pale against the hill at whose feet it stands. For those prepared to live with a reactor as a neighbour, its arrival in the mid-70s heralded a golden age. The site’s first reactor stopped producing power in 2011, while the second has been operational since 1989.

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The Guardian, 9 Dec 2022: Why delay in phasing out nuclear power is dividing German village