BGE buys first plots for Asse retrieval shaft

The Lower Saxony State Forest is assisting the Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE) by selling a plot of land for the retrieval of radioactive waste from the Asse II mine.

Preparations are being firmed up for the retrieval of radioactive waste from the Asse II mine: on Monday, the Federal Republic of Germany, as represented by the Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE), signed a first contract with the Lower Saxony State Forest regarding the purchase of plots for the new retrieval mine.

In addition to the new shaft (Shaft 5) for recovering the radioactive waste, the plan is to use the newly acquired plots to construct the accompanying surface buildings and other infrastructure needed to operate the shaft, such as a return air building (chimney). The contract was notarised on Monday, 29 March 2021, and secures a total area of around 112,000 square metres for the BGE, although the exact area will only be determined following the evaluation of further exploratory work.

Discussing the purchase of the land, the BGE’s Technical Managing Director, Dr Thomas Lautsch, said: “By buying these plots, we’ve reached an important milestone in the process of retrieving the waste and therefore in the safe decommissioning of the Asse mine. We’ll work hard to also acquire the outstanding areas of farmland so that we can start building the new retrieval shaft as quickly as possible.” He hopes that the first purchase contract will now send a signal for ongoing negotiations with the owners of other plots.

Lower Saxony’s Minister for Environment Olaf Lies believes that the sale of the land sends an important signal: “Things are really moving forward at the Asse mine, with the retrieval plans continuing to take shape and gather pace. The state government is showing a great deal of ambition as it pushes ahead with the plans.” Olaf Lies continued: “The drums stored in the Asse mine must be recovered from the dilapidated complex as quickly as possible. The areas of land now acquired by the BGE are vital to the construction of the recovery shaft in order to retrieve the drums from the Asse mine in an initial stage of the project. However, it’s important to note that these areas still don’t include space for an interim storage facility.” At present, the focus has once again turned to the process of finding a site for the interim storage facility, and the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment is consistently pushing ahead with these efforts.

The winding tower of the Asse II mine

The winding tower of the Asse II mine is currently the only way to access the pit. The retrieval process will require the construction of a second shaft, and the BGE has now acquired the first plots of land for this purpose.