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Vattenfall Sues for $6 Billion in Compensation for German Nuclear Power Stations Phase-Out

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Published on : Nov 13, 2014

“Atomausstieg” is a program that states nuclear exit and closing down of all German nuclear plants by 2021, after Japan’s precipitation Fukushima disaster in 2011. 

The eight oldest nuclear power plants were closed down instantly, of which two were owned by the Swedish state-owned energy giant ‘Vattenfall.’ Vattenfall also operates power plants in many other European countries. 

In 2012, Vattenfall demanded $6 billion in compensation by filing suit at the Washington-based International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).  

The closure of the power stations has caused substantial financial damage, reporting the company a net loss of $2.5 billion for the third quarter of 2014.  

The amount of compensation had remained undisclosed until the end of October, when Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) revealed it in a letter answering the request. 

There are other two German utility companies RWE and E.on seeking for compensation as well. These companies are suing the government in the court of German for $294 million and $482 million respectively. Thus, Vattenfall is not the only company looking for compensation. 

The outcome to the claims is seemingly promising as legality of the "Atomaustieg” was damaged to begin with, debates Rupert Scholz. 

Rupert is a former defense minister and a lawyer who writes that the operators of nuclear power stations have the right of the principle and property of free commercial activity. He also argues that Atomausstieg violated a rudimentary principle of a constitutional democracy. It is thus, not viable without compensating the respective companies.

The Atomausstieg is putting halt to all operations which means the nuclear power plants have been destroyed and according to German law this only happens with compensation, added Scholz.  
A professor of European and International economic law, Hans-Georg Dederer at the University of Pasau in Germany said the cancellation of operation licenses of the eight nuclear power stations is de-facto repossession. 

Thus, a German court will have hard times in ruling that the German government will have things to compensate for the utility companies. However, the Swedish company has better chances as it relies on international law for de-facto repossession. 

The ICSID ruling gets compulsory for the German government, says BMWi. 

Adrian Toschev said the Washington court will have to decide whether the international agreement has strong basis for their claim or not. 

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