Switzerland To Phase Out Nuclear Power

Switzerland has decided to make a ban on nuclear power plants permanent. The country's cabinet has called for a gradual decommissioning of its five nuclear power plants. Germany also has announced it would start shutting down its nuclear power program.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The disaster at Japan's nuclear power plant has had a major impact on energy plans in Europe. Yesterday, the Swiss cabinet called for a complete phase-out of nuclear power in the coming decades. That makes it the second European country to move toward abandoning nuclear power in the wake of the problems in Japan.

Germany declared it would seek alternatives to nuclear power.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

And last Sunday, some 20,000 people took to the streets in Switzerland to protest nuclear power. The Swiss cabinet responded. Yesterday it called for a gradual decommissioning of the country's five nuclear power plants. If the Swiss parliament approves the recommendation, the plants will be phased out over a 30-year period. The hope is that would buy enough time to come up with alternatives, such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power.

MONTAGNE: Also, the European Union has agreed to start conducting stress tests on the scores of nuclear plants that are in member states. The tests will take into account threats from natural disasters, plane crashes and explosions.

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