Searching for a nuclear waste repository: environmental groups sharply criticize the process

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Environmental groups have expressed massive criticism of the process for searching for a nuclear waste repository. For the time being it had failed to involve the company broadly, explained BUND managing director Antje von Broock. In protest against the lack of participation by the responsible Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE), BUND volunteers no longer take part in the third and last “specialist conference” this Friday and Saturday.

The BASE ignored suggestions for improving the process including the corresponding resolutions, demands and criticism in the past few years. In the complex process of finding a repository, long-term invitation periods, sufficient preparation time, resources for independent expertise and more are necessary, writes BUND to BASE (PDF). Now the office had only submitted a sketch for the process two weeks before the third meeting date and “disregarded the will of the specialist conference sub-areas for self-organized participation on equal terms and the committed and constructively critical work of the many volunteers in their proposal did not meet the requirements Depth of detail picked up “.

The association “broadcast” spoke of a farce. The conference had failed. Shortly before the conferences, numerous stakeholders had warned against betting on online events due to the pandemic and instead suggested waiting. The government and the authorities denied this.

The background to this is the search for a repository for highly radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. It should arise underground in salt, clay or crystalline, i.e. above all granite. The most suitable location should be found in 2031 and the Bundestag will decide on it. From 2050, containers with radioactive waste are to be stored underground.

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The Federal Agency for Final Storage (BGE) commissioned with the search had submitted an interim report in September 2020. According to this, 54 percent of the area of ​​Germany is fundamentally geologically suitable for a nuclear repository; they are referred to as sub-areas. Most recently, the BGE selected four areas in which methods are to be tested with which rocks can be tested to determine whether they are suitable for a repository.

Following this, two legally prescribed participation formats have taken place since February, as “specialist conference sub-areas”. This is aimed at citizens, municipalities, social organizations and scientists. The specialist conference transmits its results to the BGE, which has to take them into account. According to the program (PDF), the third conference is to begin on Friday at 2 p.m., and a preliminary program took place yesterday, Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) said at the request of the dpa that “binding offers of participation” would be up for discussion after the specialist conference, in which the sub-areas are limited to a few siting regions. The BASE as the procedural leader for the participation had published a concept proposal in which a possible path for further participation was shown. This should be designed together with those involved.

The Federal Environment Ministry stated: “We regret the decision of some actors not to take part in the final consultation of the specialist conference sub-areas. On the other hand, the Corona-related online format has removed the inhibition threshold for many to even participate in the discussion. “Lively participation and many decisions indicate that the format is well received.” The ministry expressly welcomes the fact that the BASE and the BGE are quickly setting up further participation formats.

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