The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) was established in 2014 and since 2016 work has been underway on building its organisational structure. It is commissioned with carrying out the licensing and supervisory tasks of the federation regarding the final disposal of radioactive waste, licensing of interim storage and the transport of radioactive substances. The BfE advises and supports the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety regarding issues of disposal of radioactive waste and nuclear safety. It also carries out and organises research in these areas, has the lead responsibility in the site selection procedure for a repository for radioactive waste and it monitors implementation. The BfE also organises public participation procedures in this context.
Tasks of the BfE
The tasks of the BfE are laid out in the Atomic Energy Act, the Site Selection Act and the law establishing the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management.
- monitors the implementation of the site selection procedure for a repository for high-level radioactive waste and organises public participation
- is responsible for licensing procedures where the final disposal of radioactive wastes overlaps with issues of mining, water protection and nuclear safety
- has the supervision of disposal sites for radioactive waste
- grants licenses for interim storage and the transport of nuclear fuels
- is responsible for government custody of nuclear fuel (including issuing orders pursuant to Section 5 (7) sentence 1of the Atomic Energy Act)
- makes available its expertise regarding nuclear safety
- carries out and organises research in the above areas.
Site selection procedure
The Repository Site Selection Act establishes a procedure for an unbiased, science-based and transparent selection of a site for the safe storage of heat-generating radioactive waste in particular. In future, the repository site with the highest possible safety level for a time span of one million years will be determined by federal law in Germany.
A commission will carry out work on the storage of highly radioactive material before the actual site selection procedure. The commission will examine and assess the fundamental issues relating to the disposal of radioactive waste and draw up a basis for decision-making as well as recommendations for action for the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.
The site selection procedure itself will commence once the commission has concluded its work and the Bundestag has established a legislative foundation for decisions. The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) as regulatory authority and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) are responsible for implementing the procedure.