German utilities are in talks with the government about handing over responsibility for decommissioning the country's nuclear power plants to a public foundation, two sources familiar with the proposals said on Sunday.
This so-called 'bad bank' for nuclear energy would take over Germany's nuclear plants, which the government decided should be all closed by 2022 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan three years ago.
"Talks are being held with the German government," a person familiar with the plans told Reuters, adding the talks were at a very early stage.
"Nothing has been decided yet," the source said, following a report in German magazine Der Spiegel earlier on Sunday.
This foundation could take care of their decommissioning, using the funds which would be brought in by the utilities.
The four operators of nuclear plants in Germany - E.ON , RWE and EnBW and Sweden's Vattenfall - have made total provisions of more than 30 billion euros ($41.27 billion) for the dismantling of the plants and the disposal of nuclear waste.
The proposed public foundation would take care of the plants' decommissioning using funds from these provisions, the sources said.
If there was a deal the utilities might be willing to drop their legal claims against the German government for compensation for having to shut the plants, one of the sources said.
"It would create a situation where utilities could outsource the risks to the government, foregoing some of their damage claims in return," the person said.
E.ON. RWE and EnBW declined to comment. The German Ministry of Economy and Energy said it did not know of such a proposal and declined to give any further comment.
(Reporting by Tom Käckenhoff and Christoph Steitz; Writing by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Greg Mahlich)