The German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has called for the closure of old nuclear power plants after an automatic shutdown at Vattenfall AB’s Kruemmel reactor near Hamburg on 4 July.

Social Democrat Minister Gabriel said the remaining operational lifespan of older reactors could be transferred to newer plants in an amendment extending their life, writes Bloomberg.

Speaking on German ARD television, Gabriel also called for the creation of a federal overseer to close gaps caused by state monitoring of the industry.

“We must pull these older nuclear plants from the grid. That means tightening up the legislation we have,” he said.

Gabriel’s SPD in coalition with the Green Party passed legislation in 2002 that will phase out nuclear power by about 2021.

About 17 nuclear power plants in Germany are still in operation.

The SPD’s current coalition partners, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, seek an extension of nuclear power beyond 2021.

Vattenfall said that the plant east of Hamburg automatically shut down following a disruption in a transformer.