Nuclear waste disposal in Germany – present situation and perspectives

Horst Geckeis1
1 Institut für Nukleare Entsorgung (INE), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

O 4.1 in Final repositories and underground disposal sites

15.04.2016, 09:45-10:00, Audimax A, Geb. 30.95


The new German repository site selection law issued in 2013 defines a re-start of the process for the safe disposal of heat producing radioactive waste coming from electricity production by nuclear fission in Germany. While the abandoned iron ore mine “shaft Konrad” has been licensed as a national repository for radioactive waste with negligible heat production, a site for 10.500 tSM used nuclear fuel and ca. 8.000 canisters filled with vitrified high level waste and technological waste from reprocessing still has to be selected. Additionally, spent fuel from prototype and research reactors, uranium tails from isotope enrichment activities and potentially retrieved waste from the Asse salt mine have to be disposed of safely [1].

Defined by the law and by the recommendations of a currently active parliamentary commission, a process will be developed consisting of a stepwise approach based on scientific selection criteria and including instruments for the consultation and participation of local authorities and the public. Individual decisions concerning the selection of regions for above surface exploration, of regions for subsurface investigations and a final comparative site selection will be taken by the parliament and defined by law. Challenges arise by the definition of a procedure which finally will be accepted by the majority of the public as transparent and “fair”. Furthermore, the process of selecting regions and sites will only be possible by comparing and assessing the safety of disposal concepts in the various hostrocks potentially available. In a first instance, all host rock types currently investigated in European countries for the disposal of heat producing waste: rocksalt, clay rock and crystalline rock, will also have to be considered in Germany.

The present situation with regard to host rock formations to be considered in Germany and various aspects of the site selection procedure will be described and discussed [2].


[1] Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BMUB), Entwurf 06. Januar, 2015. Programm für eine verantwortungsvolle und sichere Entsorgung bestrahlter Brennelemente und radioaktiver Abfälle (Nationales Entsorgungsprogramm).

[2] Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft Endlagerforschung (DAEF); Aspekte eines Standortauswahl-verfahrens für ein Endlager für Wärme entwickelnde Abfälle, Oktober 2014

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