March 14, 2011 / 5:31 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 1-German state maps out rules for Biblis reactor

WIESBADEN, Germany, March 14 (Reuters) - Germany’s Biblis nuclear reactor in Hesse state needs to be reexamined in the light of a government suspension of longer nuclear life cycles, the state’s premier said on Monday.

“We won’t seek safety on the cheap,” said Hesse prime minister Volker Bouffier at a news conference.

The event at the Hesse capital of Wiesbaden came shortly after German Chancellor Angela Merkel suspended a coalition agreement to delay closing ageing nuclear power stations for three months, after the Japanese nuclear crisis stiffened opposition to an unpopular deal.[ID:nLDE72D1PN]

Bouffier said should safety examinations of the two Biblis power-generating blocks A and B, which are operated by RWE (RWEG.DE) show that revamps were necessary, then a further licence to run them would only be given on the basis of such revamps being in place.

The nuclear supervisory role for individual plants in Germany falls to the state environment or economy ministries.

Bouffier also said he would not expressly exclude closure of the plants, which are among the oldest of Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations and have therefore been much maligned by anti-nuclear campaigners.

Biblis A, which has 1,225 megawatts (MW) installed capacity, was built in 1975, and block B, of 1,300 MW, in 1977.

RWE said earlier on Monday that unit A may run up to the middle of 2011 with remaining quota transferred last year from rival E.ON’s (EONGn.DE) Stade plant, which closed in 2003.

This means it is not yet making use of the life extension.

Block B is closed for maintenance work until May 22. It too “borrowed” production quota from another plant, RWE’s Muehlheim Kaerlich, to last it at least until end-2011.

Such transfers are legitimate under Germany’s original nuclear withdrawal plan drawn up 11 years ago, which allocated permissible volumes to the plants and allowed switching them around until the end of nuclear operations by 2021 latest.

Reporting by Kathrin Jones and Vera Eckert

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