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Nuke-Free Germany Isn't Exactly Nuke-Free

The Czechs eagerly supply nuclear power to their green neighbor

Set in the lush, rolling Bohemian hills of the Czech Republic, the twin reactors of the Soviet-designed Temelín nuclear power plant lie just 44 miles from the German border. Since last spring, when Chancellor Angela Merkel began shutting down Germany’s nuclear reactors, Temelín has stepped up supplies of electricity to Bavaria, where big German manufacturers including BMW, Audi, and Siemens have factories.

There’s a double paradox here. Germany says its future will be nuclear-free. For the present, though, it’s nuclear not-so-free, relying more than ever on electricity from atomic-powered neighbors. What’s more, the Germans have been turning off their reactors because they don’t want a Fukushima-style meltdown spewing radiation across their country. Yet the Temelín reactors, which are in good shape, are close enough to the border to rain down radiation on Germany should a serious accident occur.