EnBW joins legal fight over German nuclear

23 December 2014

EnBW will sue its 46% owner, the state of Baden-Württemberg, as well as the German federal government, over the unlawful shutdown of two reactors in 2011.  

Announcing its decision today, EnBW said it is "mindful of the statute of limitations expiring on 31 December 2014" and plans to begin its legal action tomorrow.

It was in March 2011 that Germany reacted to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi by ordering certain older reactors to close for a three month 'moratorium'. Acting on federal instructions, state environment agencies subsequently ordered that those reactor never restart. In February last year this extraordinary move was ruled unlawful in the case of the closure of the Biblis nuclear power plant, owned by RWE.

EnBW said "the central reasons" behind the Biblis decision "are applicable" in respect of the closure of its Neckarwestheim 1 and Philipsburg 1 reactors. EnBW has therefore decided to act "in view of its obligations arising from the stock corporation law to represent the interests of its shareholders," it said. The company hopes to recoup damages "in the low nine-digit figure range." A claim will be filed at the Bonn Regional Court against the federal government and the state of Baden-Württemberg.

The legal action brings about a strange situation because some 46.75% of EnBW stock is actually held by the state of Baden-Württemberg, currently governed by Greens. An equally large stake is held by an association of nine local authorities and municipalities in the state. In total EnBW states that "99.6% shares are in state ownership."

The new legal action joins a morass of existing cases contesting every aspect of the German nuclear shutdown. In January last year EOn and RWE won a ruling that the tax on nuclear fuel was formally unconstitutional, although a federal government appeal means this must go to the European Court of Justice. Separately, Swedish state-owned Vattenfall is pursuing Germany for damages in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The total sum of compensation from the nuclear fuel tax and premature closure of eight reactors could be several billion euros.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News