Monitoring of nuclear installations
To protect public health and the environment against the dangers of ionizing radiation, the nuclear power plants and other nuclear installations and facilities in which radioactive material is handled are subject to strict government supervision. In Baden-Württemberg, this responsibility lies in the hands of the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy.
The competent Nuclear Supervision, Radiation Protection department monitors the nuclear plants in Baden-Wuerttemberg and ensures that they are built, operated and – after shutdown – decommissioned and dismantled in accordance with all nuclear licences, provisions and regulations.
The monitoring of nuclear power stations in Baden-Württemberg is carried out on the basis of a systematic and unified supervision concept with modern methods of supervision. The objective is to ensure in the long run a high level of safety in the nuclear installations in Baden-Württemberg.
In Baden-Württemberg has five nuclear power plants that are subject to supervision by the nuclear regulatory agency:
- Neckarwestheim, Unit I (permanently shut down since 2011)
- Neckarwestheim, Unit II
- Obrigheim (permanently shut down since 2005)
- Philippsburg, Unit 1 (permanently shut down since 2011)
- Philippsburg, Unit 2
In addition, the interim storage facilities in Neckarwestheim and Philipsburg, the reprocessing plant in Karlsruhe (WAK), the European Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU), the facilities of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and the Siemens educational reactors (SUR) are also subject to supervision.
The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy is the approval agency for nuclear installations and facilities, with the exception of the interim storage facilities in Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg. The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) is the approval authority for the interim storage sites in Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg.
Inspections in the plants
One of the main tasks of the regulatory agency is the inspection of nuclear facilities. External Experts are also consulted for this purpose.
The inspections verify in particular compliance with the licensing, compliance with the Radiation Protection Ordinance, the qualification of the operating and security personnel, the enabling and release procedures for maintenance and modifications, the observance of fire protection measures, the keeping of shift logs and other records, the plant management, the handling of fuel elements, the periodic inspections, maintenance, modification measures, records of personal dosimetry (external and internal radiation exposure), the emissions of radioactive material, as well as human resources and organizational aspects, such as the monitoring of the safety management system, aspects of safety-consciousness, the quality assurance, the human resources capacity, and the expertise and reliability of the staff.
The operator has the responsibility of upgrading the safety of the system in accordance with the advancing state of science and technology and in compliance with the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act.
Since 2002, operators of nuclear power plants have had to carry out a periodic safety review every ten years according to Section 19a of the Atomic Energy Act. In the process, an important objective was to check whether the array of incidents specified in the regulations is covered by the safety features of the system.
Communication with the public
Another important task is to inform the local population concerning the safety issues of nuclear power plants. The citizens at the nuclear power plant sites should be informed actively in and in an institutionalized form. For this purpose, information commissions were established to join forces with the press and public relations work at the Neckarwestheim site (www.infokommission-gkn.de) as well as at the Philippsburg site (www.infokommission-kkp.de).