Waste storage leak sparks nuclear debate

Nuclear storage leaks in the state of Lower Saxony, northwest Germany, have rekindled debate about the country's continued use of atomic energy, Reuters reported.

Leaks were discovered in barrels of radioactive waste at the Asse facility, the report said. The facility was converted in the 1960s into a pilot project for a planned permanent nuclear storage facility at Gorleben, in Lower Saxony.

The accident has raised questions about the use of nuclear power, as operators lobby the government to reverse an impending deal to abandon all atomic energy by 2021.

German conservatives, led by chancellor Angela Merkel, support the use of nuclear power to offset rising energy costs, but the Social Democrats, led by environment minister Sigmar Gabriel oppose the facility at Gorleben, based on the geological suitability of the site.

According to Der Spiegel magazine, finding an alternative storage site would cost at least 1 billion euros (US$1.4 billion).

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