DECOMMISSIONING OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES IN GERMANY - STATUS AT BMBF SITES Page: 1 of 5
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WM'02 Conference, February 24-28, 2002, Tucson, AZ- pg. 1
DECOMMISSIONING OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES IN
GERMANY - STATUS AT BMBF SITES
Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe GmbH
P.O. Box 36 40, D-76021 Karlsruhe
Bundesministerium fuer Bildung und Forschung
P.O. Box 20 02 40, D-53170 Bonn
In a period of approximately 40 years prior to 1994, the German Federal Government had spent about E 15 billion to
promote nuclear technology. These funds were earmarked for R&D projects as well as demonstration facilities
which took up operation between 1960 and 1980. These BMBF (Federal Ministry for Research) facilities were
mainly located at the sites of the federal research centers at Juelich and Karlsruhe (the research reactors AVR,
FR2, FRJ-1, KNK, and MZFR, the pilot reprocessing plant WAK) but included also the pilot plants SNR-300 and
THTR-300 for fast breeder and high-temperature gas -cooled reactor development, respectively, and finally the salt
mine Asse which had been used for waste emplacement prior to conversion into an underground research labora-
tory. In the meantime, almost all of these facilities were shut down and are now in a state of decommissioning and
dismantling. This is mainly due to the facts that R&D needs are satisfied or do not exist any more and that, sec-
ondly, the lack of political consensus led to the cancellation of advanced nuclear technology.
Since the announcement of the first nuclear program (Atomprogramm) in 1956, nuclear R&D in Germany has been
supported by the Federal Government under four nuclear programs and later on under more general energy R&D
programs. The original goal was to help German industry to achieve safe, low-cost generation and self-sufficiency
in the various branches of nuclear technology, including the fast breeder reactor and the fuel cycle. Several na-
tional research centers were established and prototype plants were built, among them the SNR-300 fast breeder
reactor, the THTR-300 thorium reactor, the WAK reprocessing plant and, finally, the Asse salt mine was con-
verted into an R&D facility. From the total construction cost the Federal government's share was slightly above
50%, bringing the total Federal funding spent on nuclear R&D since 1956 to about 15 billion.
Since about the end of the 1980s nuclear power plants have generated roughly 1/3 of the electricity in Germany.
This is still the case even though, after the last Parliamentary Election in 1998, the nuclear policy of the new gov-
ernment has changed drastically. This deserves a brief departure from the main theme. Nuclear policy is now
aimed at banning construction of new nuclear power plants and limiting the lifetime of operating ones.
Leaders of Germany's federal government and of the nuclear utility industry in June 2001 formally signed the
nuclear energy phase-out accord the two sides had negotiated one year earlier. According to that agreement all
power reactors will be shut down after they will have generated a total of about 3000 TWh (which is about the
same electric energy as produced since the beginning of nuclear power generation in Gemany approximately 30
years ago). The agreement does not specify a date for shutting any individual reactor or date when the last reac-
tor will close, but entitles the reactor operators to transfer or trade each reactor's allotment to other reactors.
Thereby, bigger and newer units may stay on-line beyond the 32-year reactor lifetime the agreement is based on,
at the expense of smaller and older units.
This new policy includes the restriction of spent fuel management to direct disposal after 2005. Up to this date,
reprocessing in France and Great Britain is permitted. Simultaneously, the utilities are building intermediate stor-
age facilities for spent fuel at the reactor sites, so that by 2005 shipments of spent fuel - either to reprocessing
plants or to centralized storage facilities - become superfluous.
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Papp, R. & Komorowski, K. DECOMMISSIONING OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES IN GERMANY - STATUS AT BMBF SITES, article, February 25, 2002; Tucson, Arizona. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc782025/m1/1/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.