Search for a final repository for high-level radioactive waste
The road to the Site Selection Act
The state government of Baden-Württemberg was an early advocate in the search for a final repository for high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel elements. In autumn of 2011, the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy in Baden-Württemberg drew up a term sheet for the final repository search which delivered the decisive impetus at the federal-state-level for the Site Selection Act that was passed in July 2013.
Site Selection Act
Through the law, an open-ended, multi-stage process based on transparent scientific criteria is launched – starting with a "white map of Germany" and far-reaching participation of the public. This process is intended to be used to find the best possible site in terms of safety for a final repository in Germany.
For the required division of roles under European law, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) serves as the project proponent. Its task in the process includes compiling proposals for the selection of sites to be explored and conducting investigations both above-ground and below-ground.
The newly established Federal Office for Nuclear Waste Disposal regulates the site selection process. It defines the exploration programs and the site-based check criteria. In addition, it draws up proposals for the site decisions.
Commission on “Storage of High-Level Radioactive Waste”
The Site Selection Act provides for the establishment of a commission on “Storage of High-Level Radioactive Waste”.
The Commission began its work in May of 2014. Baden-Württemberg's Environmental Minister Franz Untersteller collaborates in the commission as one of eight members of the state governments.
In addition to the members of the state governments, eight representatives each from the Bundestag, science and social groups (environmental groups, industry, trade unions and religious communities) are also in the commission. Including the chairman (alternates between Ursula Heinen-Esser (CDU) and Michael Müller (SPD), the commission numbers a total of 33 members.
Task of the commission
The task of the commission is to prepare a concrete search procedure and to submit a report by mid-2016 at the latest in which it
- examines and evaluates basic issues relevant to the selection policy for the disposal of radioactive waste,
- draws up proposals for the basis of decision-making (general safety requirements for storage, geo-scientific, water management and spatial exclusion criteria and minimum requirements with regard to the suitability of geological formations for the permanent disposal, as well as exclusion and selection criteria specific to the host rock for the potential salt, clay and crystalline host rocks, in addition to assessment criteria independent of the host rock, and the methodology for the performance of preliminary safety studies), and
- presents an appropriate policy recommendation for the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.