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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 15:42 GMT
Germany shuts first nuclear plant
Technician turns off reactor at Stade nuclear plant
Germany plans to close all nuclear plants by 2025.
Germany has shut the first of its 19 nuclear plants in an initial step towards phasing out using atomic power.

The 32-year-old Stade plant near Hamburg was taken off the country's electrical grid on Friday morning.

Its closure was part of an agreement reached two years ago between the government and power companies.

Germany aims to shut all its nuclear power plants by 2025, although it is unclear how Germany will make up for the energy shortfall.

Alternative sources

"All rods are engaged. We are now out," said technician Bernd Schroeder as the plant was shut down.

Spent nuclear rods from the facility will be sent to France for reprocessing, after which work will begin to demolish the plant.

The demise of Germany's nuclear industry was sealed in 1988 when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder pledged to phase out atomic energy in a deal which brought the Green Party into coalition with Mr Schroeder's Social Democrat Party.

The phase-out was agreed between Environment Minister Juergen Trittin and Germany's industrial giants.

Nuclear power provides a third of Germany's electricity supply; alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, are supposed to make up the shortfall.

Environmental groups cautiously welcomed Stade's closure, but expressed disappointment that some of its output had been shifted to other nuclear plants.

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