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Austria: First country with official anti-nuclear policy

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1997) A historical event on nuclear issues happened in November 1997 in Vienna. An anti-nuclear-package has been negotiated between Global 2000 and other anti-nuclear-groups with the Austrian government. The anti-nuclear package was accepted in the council of Austrian Ministries and will be realized the beginning of next year.

(483/4.4792) Global 2000 Package of Austrian anti-nuclear policies:

1. Amendment and constitutional rank for the antinuclear law.
According to the Federal Law of December 15, 1978 (BGBl. No. 676) on the ban of using nuclear fission for Austria's energy supply, nuclear power plants must neither be erected nor set into operation in Austria. Until the end of March 1998 at latest, a comprising anti-nuclear law shall in the course of its amendment reach constitutional rank.

2. No storage for foreign radioactive waste in Austria.
According to article 7 Z 8 and article 10 para.2 of the Radioactive Waste Transfer Regulation (RAbf-VV, BGBl. II No. 44/1997), even today the transfer of radioactive waste into the Federal territory for the purpose of final or intermediate storage is not possible. Moreover it is being intended to additionally embody the ban of storing and conditioning nuclear waste from foreign countries in Austria in the course of the amendment of the anti-nuclear law and elevate it to constitutional rank at the end of March 1998 at the latest.

3. New nuclear liability.

3.1 Amendment of the nuclear liability law.
Based on the decision of the National Council of July 10, 1997 the Austrian Federal Government will in the first six months of 1998 approve a new Austrian nuclear liability law adapted to modern requirements. Principles like e.g. the approximation of indemnity amounts to real risk and damage assessments, liability for damage to the environment, introduction of longer time limits for submitting a compensation claim for health damage, easier burden of evidence, easier receiving information from the tortfeaser ("damager") and a more rigorous liability for handling radionuclids will be included; the question of channeling of liability has to be reconsidered.

3.2 Initiative for a European nuclear liability regime.
At European level the Members of European Parliament of both coalition parties and members of the Federal Government will take the initiative for a rigorous European nuclear liability regime.

4. No nuclear transports through Austria.
Due to international commitments there is no direct possibility to forbid nuclear transports through Austria. Within the scope of this measurement package, however, there will be assured that all options against nuclear transports will fully be exhausted for safety reasons of the population, the transport security and environmental protection. Until the end of March 1998 an appropriate measurement package (e.g stronger conditions) will be presented by the Federal Ministry for Internal Affairs as well as the Federal Ministry for Science and Transport to the National Council (Parliament) for decision-making. A first measure was taken by the Cabinet Council with the amendment of 1997 which amongst other changes raised the compensation limit to 1,5 billion ATS (about US$117 million).

5. No signing of insufficient international nuclear liability conventions.
At the moment there is no intention for Austria to enter one of the international nuclear liability conventions. The decision for a final Austrian opinion will require broad public discussions.

6. Complete nuclear phase-out is an issue of the EU-accession negotiations with the Central- and East-European-countries.
Based on the decision of the National Council of July 10, 1997 the Federal Government committed itself to pushing for nuclear phase-out-plans in the course of the forthcoming EU accession negotiations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and feels responsible for taking adequate actions.

7. R&D funds for renewable energy.
The Federal Government is at the moment consequently trying to claim more EU research money for renewable energy during the ongoing preparation process of the 5th framework programme. The government continues with increased force the promotion of renewable energy for PHARE and TACIS(*). Moreover the Federal Government is going to push for increased socio-economic research in the 5th framework programme. In the field of Austrian research funding the government is going to make sure that an adequate financing for the overlapping technology risk research, especially in the field of nuclear fusion is guaranteed.

8. IAEA increases verification.
The Federal Government applies for the IAEA's reorientation from promoting nuclear power to increased verifying of safety standards and proliferation. Austria will continue to point out that nuclear energy is no admissible option for fighting the anthropogene greenhouse-effect.

9. NGO-conference during the Austrian EU-presidency.
In the course of the events taking place during the Austrian European Union presidency (second half of 1998) the topic nuclear policy will find its account in the international NGO conference which is going to be supported by the Federal Government. The cooperation with like-minded countries will be continued and extended.

(*) EU programs for the former-Soviet Union (TACIS) and Central and East- European Countries (PHARE)

Source and Contact: Patricia Lorenz at Global 2000, Flurschuetzstr. 13, 1120 Vienna, Austria.
Tel: +43-1-8125730; Fax: +43-1-8125728