Is there a strategy for dealing with radioactive waste?
- The National Waste Management Programme of 2015 – drawn up with the participation of the public – defines Germany’s strategy for managing radioactive waste. The programme states that fuel elements in Germany must be placed in dry interim storage until their final disposal. This means that after several years of decay storage in the wet storage facility of a nuclear power plant, the irradiated fuel elements are loaded into CASTOR® transport and storage casks and stored in the interim storage facility on the site of the nuclear power plant until their final disposal. Sufficient interim storage capacities are available in Germany for this purpose.
- In accordance with the Site Selection Act, a site for a repository for heat-generating waste (essentially spent fuel elements) will be specified in 2031. The repository will then be approved and constructed and is expected to go into operation around 2050. In accordance with the National Waste Management Programme, an incoming storage facility will be constructed at the site of the repository. This facility will be approved with the first partial approval of the repository, i.e. at the beginning of the 2040s. This will enable the clearance of the interim storage facilities to begin before the final storage facility is put into operation.
- On 1 August 2017, the BGZ took over the Ahaus and Gorleben interim storage facilities and has guaranteed their safe operation since that date. In a next step from 2019, the BGZ will take over the twelve decentralised interim storage facilities for spent fuel elements at the sites of the German nuclear power plants. On 1 January 2020, the BGZ will also take over the twelve storage facilities for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste at the nuclear power plant sites. When all the sites have been integrated, the BGZ will create a comprehensive inventory of the overall situation, taking into account each individual interim storage facility and subsequently coordinate the next steps with the Federal Ministry for the Environment based on the BGZ’s inventory. There is sufficient time to carry this out until the respective approvals expire – and the BGZ will make the best possible use of this period with the help of external experts.