Brussels, 10 Jun 2004
A new atomic reactor, using enriched uranium and aimed at furthering scientific research and developing new technologies in the fields of medicine and biology, was inaugurated on 9 June in Garching, near Munich, in Germany.
At the inauguration, which took place in the presence of Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily, the Bavarian state premier Edmund Stoiber said the new 435 million euro reactor 'will generate high-technology jobs' and push Germany further to the fore of international research in many innovation fields.
In Garching, experts from around the world will be able to conduct experiments in medicine, biology and material research.
In the field of medicine, the focus will be on cancer research as cancerous tumours close to the skin's surface can be cured thanks to the bombing of neutrons.
Anti-nuclear demonstrators gathered to protest against the opening of the 20 megawatt FRM II reactor, the construction of which has been highly controversial.
Indeed, Gerhard Schröder's government is in the process of phasing out nuclear energy and has agreed to close its nuclear power plants by 2020.
The government gave its authorisation for the construction of the reactor only after the federal Land of Bavaria committed itself to modifying the reactor by 2010 so that it will use less enriched uranium.
Opponents to the site have denounced the potential dangers of the reactor, complaining, for example, that the reactor's cooling water will be pumped into the Isar river.
The Garching reactor is the first to be inaugurated in Germany since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.