"She is not a `handmaiden' of the industry. She has fulfilled her duties in an outstanding way," he told parliament.
Opposition politicians, who aim to end Germany's reliance on nuclear power, accused Angela Merkel of having been blind to problems with contaminated waste shipments over the past decade because of her commitment to atomic energy.
Both the Social Democrat and ecologist Greens parliamentary groups introduced motions calling for Ms Merkel's resignation, but, with Mr Kohl's coalition controlling a majority in the lower house of parliament, they were rejected.
Mr Kohl said that nuclear power plant operators had made errors, and the government would draw the necessary conclusions.Reuse content