Storage of research reactor fuel elements in the Ahaus interim storage facility
Universities and research centres in Germany have been operating research reactors for decades. The neutrons provided in the reactors are used in basic research and for medical and industrial applications: from the production of radioisotopes for cancer therapy through to the improvement of lithium-ion batteries. The research reactors use fuel elements to produce the neutron flows needed for experiments and measurements. After they have been used, the fuel elements from the research reactors in Garching, Berlin and Mainz will be packed in CASTOR casks and stored in the Ahaus interim storage facility. After their interim storage, fuel elements will be disposed of in a repository for highly radioactive waste.
The place where CASTOR casks with fuel elements will be stored after they have been used must be stipulated in the applicable licensing procedure before research reactors can go into operation in Germany.
The Ahaus interim storage facility will be used to store fuel elements from German research reactors. Fuel elements from the research reactor that was operated in Dresden-Rossendorf between 1957 and 1991 have been stored at the Ahaus site, which is operated by BGZ, since 2005.
An agreement was reached with the Municipality of Ahaus as early as 1993 enabling fuel elements from German research reactors to be stored in the Ahaus interim storage facility, provided that a license is granted under nuclear law. On this basis, contracts were agreed between operators of the research reactors and the operator of the Ahaus interim storage facility concerning the future emplacement of research reactor fuel elements. These contracts are now coming into effect.