Germany Says It Has `Critical' Lack of Nuclear Power Scientists

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Germany, which plans to end its use of nuclear power by 2021, has a ``critical'' lack of qualified nuclear scientists to inspect the 17 German atomic energy plants and maintain its expertise, Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

Germany must find ways to encourage people to enter the field even with the planned phaseout of nuclear energy, Gabriel said today at a Berlin briefing. The federal environment ministry, which is responsible for nuclear safety, has about 15 employees to oversee inspection for all of Germany, which isn't enough, he said.

``We need an improvement regarding personnel,'' Gabriel said. ``Regardless of phasing out nuclear power, nuclear research will go on whether it's in the field of medicine or others. The ministry doesn't have a crystal ball and we have no idea how we will use nuclear in 30 or 40 years.''

Gabriel made the comments during a briefing to report on the results of an inspection of Germany's nuclear regulatory system by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA. Germany invited the inspectors to investigate how the country oversees safety at its plants.

The IAEA team highlighted the need for more experts as well as the importance for transparency in matters of nuclear safety, said Mike Weightman, the U.K.'s chief nuclear inspector who led the investigation.

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