Meltdown: Germany Deals with Extreme Heat Threat

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Nuclear Power Station, Temelin, South Bohemia --- Image by © Walter Bibikow/Index Stock/Corbis

How hot is Germany? So boiling that the country’s nuclear power plants may need to be shut down to prevent overheating.

That’s the word from the environmental ministry of the German Federal State Baden-Wuertemberg, who dubbed the situation “strained” and warned that the heat wave could get worse within the next days.

The danger comes from the water sources used to cool nuclear- and coal-based power plants. If the water becomes too hot — a real danger as Germany suffers through a period of extreme heat — the plants may need to be shut down. But it won’t be lights out: according to officials the possible shutdowns are no danger for the German energy supply.

The bad news doesnt stop there. Shipping traffic on the river Elbe may come also to a standstill within the next few hours, and transportation was threatened too as trains faced delays. On Monday the air conditions in some German high-speed trains went off, causing temperatures to sore to nearly 122 degrees inside one of the trains and prompting a rescue operation, with 52 passengers needing treatment.

As a consequence the German government demanded an investigation of at least 44 trains. They better hurry: According to weather forecasts the next days will be as hot as the last ones.

The only bright spot? Retailers report sales of ventilators and air conditioners are up sharply.

Rick Noack