The search in Germany for a permanent storage facility for nuclear waste has been a long slog and has so far led nowhere. Late last year, due to ongoing protests by the anti-nuclear lobby, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier announced an end to suitability studies on an old salt mine in Gorleben, Lower Saxony, which for a long time was viewed as a possible long-term site for storing nuclear waste. Now, a new draft law has emerged in the midst of the waste site debate. Changes to the existing law would allow the possible export of spent nuclear fuel to storage facilities abroad. The law is required because of EU guidelines from 2011 that must be enshrined in national law by all member states by August 2013. EU guideline The draft, which Deutsche Welle has seen, allows the "permanent storage" of nuclear waste abroad when "at the time of delivery there is a valid accord between the Federal Republic of Germany and the third-party country." In other words, German nuclear waste may be … [Read more...] about Possible export of nuclear waste draws criticism
Storing nuclear waste
The words that kept recurring at the talks on Tuesday evening (09.04.2013) were transparency, trust, and - above all - consensus. 35 years - that's how long it has taken for German federal and state politicians to agree to look again at where to site a permanent storage facility for German nuclear waste. Restarting the search German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier of the Christian Democrats declared this the "big breakthrough." All parties, he said, had agreed on the draft of a bill, with a view to passing it before the end of the year. It stipulates that a commission comprising 24 people from both politics and civil society should examine which sites would be suitable for the storage of radioactive waste. So far, the waste has been kept at the interim site at Gorleben in the northern German state of Lower Saxony. For years now there has been fierce debate about whether the salt mine at Gorleben is suitable for storing nuclear waste at all - and about which other locations might … [Read more...] about Nuclear waste to find a new home
Heike Wiegel is making herself a cup of tea in her kitchen in Remlingen, in the German state of Lower Saxony. For over 30 years now she's been living just round the corner from one of Germany's most infamous nuclear waste storage sites, known simply as Asse. Wiegel, the wife of a farmer, says she doesn't have any concerns about drinking the water here. "Obviously you can't worry about it all the time," she says. "Most people living here tend to push it out of their minds, to be honest." Wiegel is not just a resident here, she's also a member of the citizen group 'aufpASSEn' – meaning 'watch out' in German – which helps raise awareness about issues from the Asse nuclear waste site. There are a number of other anti-Asse groups in the region. Now, with the law ordering the removal of waste from the site, they want to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. "What happened back then at the Asse site should never have happened," Wiegel says after a long … [Read more...] about Living above Germany’s old nuclear waste
German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU) announced the compromise on Tuesday after meeting representatives from the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. "[The law] amicably resolves the last controversial topic in the atomic age," Altmaier said at a press conference in Berlin. The agreement, which was also reached with input from all 16 of Germany's state governments, effectively hits the reset button on an issue that has been the subject of debate for years. When the law is eventually passed – likely in July – a committee including parliamentarians, activists, and scientists will be tasked with proposing potential sites that could be used to store nuclear waste. The committee of 24 is to come up with a short list by 2015, but the final decision allows plenty of time for careful consideration: the site must be selected by 2031, and built by 2040. Nuclear history The agreement still … [Read more...] about Germany restarts nuclear waste storage search from scratch
The German government, together with the opposition, hopes to approve a so-called depository site law for nuclear waste ahead of federal elections in September. The Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, on Friday (June 28) will vote on the planned legislation. After a nearly 35-year controversy over the suitability of a salt mine in Gorleben in northern Germany as a potential site for storing high-level nuclear waste, the search for a storage site will begin again. The bipartisan compromise is considered historic. A 33-member commission will have until 2016 to establish the scientific criteria for the search for a long-term storage site in Germany. Politicians will make up half of the commission with the rest of the seats being filled by scientists, anti-nuclear activists and other representatives of society. A storage site could be found by 2031, but it is not likely to start operation before 2040. Million-year storage Finding a suitable location for the storage of … [Read more...] about What to do with nuclear waste?
According to the French daily newspaper Liberation and Franco-German television broadcaster Arte, France's electricity company EDF has sent 108 tons of uranium to Siberia since the mid-1990s. About 13 percent of France's nuclear waste is stored in open-air parking lots near a nuclear plant in Seversk, said reports on Monday. EDF said it sends uranium left over from nuclear plant production in France to Russia to be treated so that it can be used again. Ten to 20 percent of the uranium came back to France to be used in French power plants, an EDF spokeswoman said Monday. A company official denied that waste was left outdoors. Liberation based its information on an eight-month investigation which was broadcast by Arte on Tuesday. Legal loophole The container was allegedly shipped by boat from Le Havre in northern France to the Siberian atom complex "Tomsk-7," located 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) away. This was only possible due to a legal loophole: Depleted uranium, recharged uranium … [Read more...] about France dumps nuclear waste in Siberia, reports say
Greenpeace Germany claims that Merkel, in her role as the head of the federal environment ministry back in 1996, extended the operating life of a nuclear waste dump in the north of the country despite warnings that it might contaminate drinking water supplies. Citing a 1996 letter from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) about the Asse II abandoned salt mine near Braunschweig, Greenpeace says that the BfS warned that "great difficulties" in Asse II could call into question the concept of depositing nuclear waste in salt mines; a practice in use at Asse II as well as the Morsleben repository. BfS research found that storing nuclear waste in salt deposits posed great risks. The agency says if Asse II were to fill with water, people in the area would be exposed to 100 times as much radiation than the maximum allowed by current laws. Greenpeace reports that the Asse II repository is taking in as much as 12 cubic meters of water per day. Greenpeace claim that, despite … [Read more...] about Merkel accused of ignoring nuclear waste contamination warnings
The federal government's proposal to store nuclear waste near the town of Morsleben faces opposition from the government of Saxony-Anhalt, the state's Environment Minister Petra Wernicke told the Mittleldeutsche Zeitung. The 1.5 million euros ($2 million) above-ground Morsleben facility would be built near an atomic storage site in an old salt mine that is scheduled for closure. The proposed type and quantity of atomic waste to be stored at Morsleben remains unclear. No official decision Greenpeace activists protest in Gorleben, a nuclear waste storage facility The governmental agency in charge of radiation protection told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung it was not ready to comment on the issue and noted that no building plans for the facility have been presented. While Wernicke confirmed that no official announcement has been made, she said the state government has already received information about the construction costs and timeline. The Morsleben facility would act … [Read more...] about German Government Plans New Nuclear Waste Dump
Hundreds of protestors whistled and booed as container trucks hauling spent nuclear fuel and stopped the train carrying 12 containers several times during its 44-hour run from a processing factory in France to the German town of Dannenberg. The containers of reprocessed nuclear waste were offloaded and trucked 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) to Germany's main storage facility for waste in the small town of Gorleben. Police monitored the convoy by helicopters. Annual protest blocks rail Policemen carry away anti-nuclear protestors during a road block in Dannenberg Hundreds of anti-nuclear activists tried to prevent the waste reaching the dump on the final leg of its journey. Dozens of protesters chained themselves to concrete blocks Sunday evening on a road leading to Gorleben, while 400 activists staged a sit-in across a road in a bid to prevent the trucks leaving the town of Dannenberg. Protesters from Greenpeace climbed on trees and hung banners from the branches, but hundreds … [Read more...] about Nuclear Waste Arrives at German Storage Dump Amid Protests
In 2016, 10 new nuclear reactors went online - and two more in the first half of 2017, according to the 2017 World Nuclear Industry Status Report published Tuesday. Six of these new nuclear power plants are based in China, which now ranks third on the list of the "big five" nuclear generating countries after the United States and France. The big five make up 70 percent of the world's nuclear energy, while the US and France account for almost half of global nuclear energy generation. In this time period, only four reactors were shut down. As nuclear reactors continue to go online, the question of what to do with nuclear waste becomes all the more pressing - and still hasn't been answered properly. In September this year, Germany begins the search to find a final storage solution for nuclear waste. A special commission is to scour the country for a suitable geological site to build a deep repository, where it can bury the toxic legacy of decades of nuclear … [Read more...] about Nuclear waste: Where to store it for eternity?