FRANKFURT, Sept 11 Germany is close to an
agreement with its utilities that will see the government assume
the risks and liabilities of storing private-sector nuclear
waste in return for a 26.4 billion euro ($29.6 billion) cash
payment, daily Boersen-Zeitung reported on Saturday.
An initial recommendation from an expert commission in April
was for Germany's power firms, led by industry leaders E.ON
and RWE, to pay a total 23.3 billion euros
to remove unwanted long-term liability for the underground
storage of nuclear waste from power plants.
Boersen-Zeitung cited sources close to the commission as
saying the final agreed amount included a 35 percent top-up on
financial provisioning already set aside by the companies to
account for the risk of unforeseen cost inflation in storing the
Under the deal, utilities would by year-end pay their
respective contributions in cash into a public-sector trust.
Utilities have been fighting for a lower payment, arguing
that they have been hammered by plunging power prices, a shift
towards renewable energy and Germany's decision to end nuclear
power by 2022 following Japan's Fukushima disaster five years
But a deal would also spell an end to uncertainty for
investors and companies, who can extricate themselves from a
thorny issue. The outstanding decision on which disused mine
will serve as indefinite storage facility is bound to trigger
fierce opposition from local residents and construction and
moving waste will likely take decades.
An E.on spokesman declined to comment on the Boersen-Zeitung
report. Officials at RWE and at Germany's environment ministry
were not immediately available for comment outside regular
($1 = 0.8908 euros)
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Stephen Powell)