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General information - Disposal of radioactive waste

Phasing-out of nuclear power generation by 2022

Against the backdrop of the events at Fukushima, the German government decided to phase out nuclear power for the commercial generation of electricity in Germany at the earliest date possible. The decision takes into account both the outcome of the deliberations in the Ethics Commission on a Secure Energy Supply set up by the government and the safety reviews at all German nuclear power plants by the Reactor Safety Commission.

In August 2011 the following amendments were introduced to the nuclear energy legislation with the entry into force of the thirteenth act amending the Atomic Energy Act:

  • The additional electricity generation allowances granted in the eleventh amendment of the Atomic Energy Act were annulled.
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  • The authorisation to generate electricity in the seven oldest nuclear power plants and the Krümmel plant will expire on the date of entry into force of the amended Atomic Energy Act.
  • The authorisation to generate electricity in the newest three installations will expire in 2022 at the latest; the authorisation for the remaining installations will expire gradually by 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021.
  • The transfer of electricity generation allowances will remain unaffected as long as the final operation deadlines are observed.

Especially with a view to the phase out nuclear of energy, the German government confirms the notion that the generations benefitting from the use of nuclear energy must also provide for the storage of radioactive waste.

Final disposal

Once nuclear energy generation will finally have been phased out and all nuclear power plants dismantled, approximately 290,000 cubic metres of low and medium radioactive wastes with negligible heat generation and between 30,000 and 40,000 cubic metres of medium and high-level wastes with relevant heat generation will have been produced in Germany. Permanent disposal of all types of radioactive wastes in deep geological formations in a final repository will be the last stage of disposal in Germany. To date approximately 84,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate level wastes have been stored at the final repository for radioactive wastes in Morsleben (ERAM) and at the Asse II mine near Wolfenbüttel. Morsleben is currently being decommissioned. In the case of the Asse mine it is currently being reviewed how the stored waste can be extracted again.

In May 2007 the establishment of the Konrad final disposal site near Salzgitter began. According to current planning radioactive wastes with negligible heat generation cannot be disposed at the site prior to 2019.

A final repository site for radioactive wastes generating heat has not yet been determined. At the Gorleben salt-mine an open an unbiased exploration is currently under way to see if it is potentially suitable as final repository. The German government believes that general criteria for geological suitability and possible alternative disposal options should be defined at the same time. The German government will present a corresponding legislative proposal during the first six months of 2012. The Federal government and the Länder are currently discussing the details of an act on the search for a final disposal site. These talks also cover the role of Gorleben in a site selection procedure.

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