German government plans to prolong the use of nuclear power are “watertight,” Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said, rebuffing opposition claims that a bid to enact the law without putting it to the upper house would break constitutional rules.

Watertight? Let’s hope so. The last thing the nuclear industry in Germany hoped was watertight was the Asse II deep geological repository for the country’s nuclear waste . In 2008 German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the facility had ‘as many holes as Swiss cheese’. Water has been leaking into the place for some time. It doesn’t stay there for long. It leaks out again having been radioactively contaminated.

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Mohamed al-Qolali, the head of Egypt's Atomic Energy Authority, has been talking about how one of the country’s Anshas reactors was operated in April this year ‘without receiving safe operation permission from the Nuclear Safety Authority, which is a grave violation of the new law relating to nuclear matters.’

When asked, ‘how is it possible that you allowed the director and operation staff to work even though their license had expired?’, Mr al-Qolali replied:

An expired license doesn’t mean its holder doesn’t know how to operate the reactor. Moreover, the license was valid but its duration had ended. A problem happened during its renewal.

It’s a novel approach to paperwork we’ll sure you’ll agree. Think of the easy life you could have with that attitude. Get a passport when you’re a baby and use it for the rest of your life. Sure the passport is valid, just its duration has ended. You might now be six feet tall with long hair but it’s still you on the passport, right?

Similarly, why bother having reactor licences at all? Sure, trained staff might leave facility, new staff might not be trained properly, and safety inspections might not have been conducted. Why not even operate the reactor ‘without receiving safe operation permission from the Nuclear Safety Authority’? You have a piece of paper saying that once upon a time your organisation knew how to run a nuclear reactor. What could possibly go wrong?

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Over in the UK, an advert for AREVA in the Nuclear Industry Association’s Industry Links magazine boasts that the company ‘provides the path of greatest certainty for new nuclear power in the UK’ with their new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). Are they sure? They must be hoping that any potential clients have spent the last few years with their eyes shut and fingers in their ears. We’re not sure what description you give to the two EPR reactors being built in Finland and France – both years late, massively over-budget and plagued by thousands of construction defects – but providing ‘the path of greatest certainty’ isn’t it.