DECOMMISSIONING OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES IN GERMANY - STATUS AT BMBF SITES Page: 2 of 5
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WM'02 Conference, February 24-28, 2002, Tucson, AZ - pg. 2
Before focussing on the status of decommissioning, one last essential of this new policy should be addressed
briefly, the on affecting Gorleben, the proposed repository site. As a reminder, the Gorleben salt dome was ex-
plored between 1979 and 2000 with respect to its suitability as a repository for HLW and spent fuel. In October
2000, a moratorium was imposed, halting its exploration for at least 3 years and a maximum of 10 years. In the
meantime, the suitability of new sites to accommodate a repository is to be examined. It is the Government's goal
to have one single repository for all sorts of radioactive waste operation around the year 2030, without limiting
the site selection process to one specific host rock formation (such as formerly rock salt).
To this end BMU, the Federal Ministry of the Environment, established AK-End, a group of experts whose man-
date it is to develop a comprehensive site selection process within about 4 years, i.e., by the end of 2002. AK-
End's major task is to come up with a set of site selection criteria and a step-by-step process in which is specified
how to proceed with respect to comparative site selection.
For decommissioning of nuclear facilities in Germany responsibility is three-fold: Firstly, electric utility companies
are responsible for the nuclear power plants. Secondly, as laid down in the German Reunification Treaty, the Fed-
eral Ministry of Economics is in charge of the decommissioning projects in the former German Democratic Repub-
lic (e.g., the Greifswald and the Rheinsberg power plants and the Wismut mine which had formerly provided the
uranium for the Soviet nuclear weapons program). Finally, there are the facilities within the responsibility of the
Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), i.e., eight reactors, the Karlsruhe reprocessing plant WAK,
the Asse salt mine and several hot cells and laboratories located at the sites of the national research centers.
Their various stages of decommissioning are the essence of this presentation. Decommissioning became neces-
sary not primarily due to technical problems but because of various other reasons such as:
- The facilities, especially those in the research centers, became obsolete and there was no more need for fur-
- The lack of consensus among the major German players on nuclear policy issues led to a phase-out of three
main projects at the end of the 1980s: the prototype reactors SNR-300 and THTR-300 as well as the Wackers-
dorf reprocessing plant. Consequently, there was no need to operate the respective pilot plants, KNK, AVR,
and WAK. As provisions for decommissioning are usually accumulated over the planned service life of a fa-
cility, the funds set aside for these facilities were not sufficient to cover the decommissioning costs. The lack
of consensus in nuclear policy in some cases necessitated early decommissioning, causing premature finan-
- Safety concerns voiced by the authorities, e.g. in the case of the Asse underground laboratory. This also
applies to the VVER reactors in East Germany which either were shut down during operation or were not com-
BMBF's decommissioning strategy in some cases consists of a speedy return to green field sites. The rationale
behind this approach is based mainly on three concerns, public acceptance, the working personnel, and costs.
BMBF is convinced that by way of this strategy public acceptance of nuclear energy will not be further impaired.
Additionally, the Ministry is concerned about the so-called "Fadenriss", i.e., the loss of technological capability,
in case existing personnel are not assigned to dismantle facilities with which they are familiar.
Cost reductions, finally, have to be pursued without compromising safety and environmental standards. In many
cases comparison between safe enclosure and total dismantling of reactors reveals about equal costs. Still, this
result cannot totally be generalized as there is a clear dependence on the structure of direct and indirect costs.
FINANCING OF DECOMMISSIONING PROJECTS
Costs which an organization or company is expected to meet in the future as a consequence of current and past
activities are generally referred to as future financial liabilities. Beside waste management and disposal, future
financial liabilities arising from nuclear activities mainly include decommissioning of facilities. In all the countries
that rely on nuclear energy, various schemes have been adopted to guarantee the availability of funds for these
liabilities. These schemes differ from country to country depending on whether or not the fund is centrally con-
trolled, and whether or not the responsibility for management of the liabilities rests with a central organisation (1).
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Papp, R. & Komorowski, K. DECOMMISSIONING OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES IN GERMANY - STATUS AT BMBF SITES, article, February 25, 2002; Tucson, Arizona. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc782025/m1/2/: accessed March 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.