Actors and tasks

The Basic Law gives the federal government exclusive legislative power with respect to the disposal of radioactive substances. This stipulation is found in Article 73(1). The responsibilities for the final disposal of radioactive waste are regulated in the Atomic Energy Act (AtG).

The federal government has delegated this task and the associated sovereign powers to the BGE but continues to play a supervisory role.

Among others, the following actors are involved in the retrieval of radioactive waste from the Asse II mine:

Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV)

The Federal Environment Ministry (BMUV) is a partner in the BGE and is also tasked with the technical and legal supervision of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE, which was known as the Federal Office for Nuclear Disposal, BfE, until 31 December 2019). In the area of radiation protection, the BMUV is the supervisory authority for corresponding activities on the part of the federal states. For technical advice, the Federal Environment Ministry can consult bodies such as the Commission on Radiological Protection (SSK) and the Nuclear Waste Management Commission (ESK), both of which are expert bodies that advise the Federal Environment Ministry on issues relating to radiation protection and nuclear waste management.

Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE)

Like the BGE, the BASE (known as the Federal Office for Nuclear Disposal, BfE, until 31 December 2019) was founded as part of the reorganisation of final disposal activities. Working on behalf of the federal government, it is the regulatory and supervisory authority for the final disposal of radioactive waste and therefore also the supervisor of the Asse II mine under nuclear law. It is the licensing authority for all newly submitted repository projects in Germany.

Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH (BGE)

The BGE is a federally owned company that the Repository Site Selection Act (StandAG) tasks with searching for, constructing and operating a repository for high-level radioactive waste materials in particular. Since April 2017, it has also been the operator of the Asse II mine and the Konrad and Morsleben repositories. The BGE is responsible for implementing the legally mandated retrieval and subsequent decommissioning. At the same time, it must implement stabilisation and emergency planning measures, as well as taking measures should retrieval prove to be impossible.

Lower Saxony Ministry for Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection (NMU)

The ministry examines whether the work and the plans to close the Asse II mine meet all safety requirements under nuclear law and the Radiation Protection Ordinance. It is responsible for the planning assessment procedure pursuant to section 9b of the Atomic Energy Act with respect to the facility’s decommissioning. According to section 57b(2) of the Atomic Energy Act, no planning assessment procedure is required with respect to retrieval.

Lower Saxony State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG)

Under mining law, the licensing and supervision of the Asse II mine come under the jurisdiction of the state mining office, which monitors and authorises the mining work. This work includes stabilisation measures, for example. In the context of the Asse II mine, the state mining office is subject to supervision by the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment.

Asse-2 Monitoring Group (A2B)

The A2B aggregates the region’s interests and is made up of representatives of the district and the surrounding municipalities as well as representatives of environmental associations and citizens’ initiatives. The members of the A2B monitor and scrutinise the work of the operator. The A2B has its own expert panel, known as the Comparison of Options Working Group (AGO). The five experts that make up the AGO bring their technical expertise to bear in the discussion process between A2B and state representatives.

Broader general public and others

Some of the citizens’ initiatives, groups and individuals that deal with the Asse II mine have grouped together to form the Asse II Coordination Committee. In addition to environmental associations and citizens’ initiatives, work on the retrieval of radioactive waste is also monitored by citizens. All of these groups have a legitimate interest in the work of the BGE.

Traces of the public debate are visible all over the district. This photo was taken in January 2017