Nuclear waste repository search: “Thuringia cannot be dealt with this way”

Nuclear waste repository search: "Thuringia cannot be dealt with this way"

After the Federal Society for Repository Search (BGE) announced four areas for method development, those in power in Thuringia are dissatisfied. “We respect the principle of the white map, but demand a transparent procedure based on clearly defined criteria and with the participation of the public,” said Thuringia’s State Secretary for the Environment, Olaf Möller. He would have liked the BGE not only to announce new intermediate steps by press release, but to involve all experts from the federal states at an early stage.

There are currently 90 sub-areas in the Federal Republic of Germany that can be used to search for a nuclear waste disposal facility. In order to narrow down the selection further, the siting regions are to be explored above ground, for this purpose the BGE is developing methods, which in turn are to be developed in the four areas now selected. These are Opalinus Clay as a possible host rock in Baden-Württemberg, crystalline in a strip that extends from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to East Thuringia and Saxony, the Bahlburg salt dome near Hamburg and a flat salt structure in the Thuringian Basin.

This means that large parts of Thuringia are “in the running”, noted Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left). “That’s not how it works. This is not how you can deal with Thuringia. The process must be fair,” he told the dpa. Options for extracting raw materials in these Thuringian regions could be at risk. “In Northern Thuringia there are potash deposits that have reserves for several decades.” A special company from Thuringia has now developed a process in which potash mining would be possible without huge spoil heaps.

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“An area for method development is a sub-area that the BGE experts focus on in order to be able to answer specific questions about the assessment of the safety of a repository system”, declares the BGE. This involves practical questions such as: How many wells are there in this sub-area, and what can be derived from the data obtained for a comprehensive geological description of the area with a view to the safe containment of nuclear waste?

Steffen Kanitz, managing director of BGE for the area of ​​location selection, emphasizes: “An area for method development is no better or worse suited than other areas. In this phase of the process, they only serve to develop methods for further delimiting the areas of all 90 sub-areas. ” All 90 sub-areas remained in the process and would gradually be assessed using these new methods.

Thomas Gottweiss, environmental politician of the CDU parliamentary group in the Thuringian state parliament, says that the search for a nuclear waste repository will pass Thuringia. The Thuringian salt deposits, like the crystalline rock layers, would prove to be unsuitable. “Thuringia is Germany’s geological vice. There are too many deep fault zones here for a nuclear waste repository through which the decay products of the radioactive waste could return to the surface.”

Thuringia is not the first federal state to raise objections during the lengthy search for a repository for highly radioactive substances. After an interim report on the search for a nuclear waste repository showed that large areas of Bavaria were suitable, the Prime Minister there, Markus Söder, said Bavaria would be “seriously” involved at all political levels and demand “fairness”. The requirement to be able to secure a repository for a million years does not allow any alternative to geological barriers. For the rugged granite in Bavaria, for example, this is not feasible without technical measures. Söder had also expressly criticized the fact that the Gorleben salt dome was removed from the proceedings.

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