German nuclear plant suffers leak

While the failure poses no danger, operations at the plant will have to be suspended, the environment ministry said

A reactor leak has been detected at the Isar 2 nuclear power plant in the southern German state of Bavaria, the environment ministry said on Monday, citing the plant’s operator. The malfunction apparently poses no risk to the public, but could compromise the government’s plan to alleviate the energy shortage, triggered mainly by the Ukraine conflict.

According to the ministry, maintenance work will be carried out in October, and it will take at least a least a week to fix the problem. During that period, all operations at the plant, which is run by E.ON subsidiary PreussenElektra, will have to be completely suspended, the ministry said.

Initially, the nuclear power plant was slated to go offline in late 2022 as part of Germany’s efforts to phase out atomic energy. However, the current energy crisis has forced Berlin to put the facility on standby until April 2023 as a reserve source of power, which could be tapped if the situation worsens.

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The environment ministry said it is now examining whether the NPP can be used for that purpose, given the latest development.

A spokesperson for electric utility E.ON, however, expressed confidence that a solution allowing Isar 2 to function beyond December 31 can be agreed with the German government.

In late August, the government approved a series of steps to reduce winter energy consumption, including limiting the use of lighting and heating in public buildings. The authorities have also encouraged citizens to save energy by all available means.

The energy crisis across Europe was largely caused by skyrocketing natural gas prices due to sanctions the EU has imposed on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.

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