The view of the Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE) remains unchanged: the “Kuhlager” is the best site for a waste treatment plant, a buffer warehouse and an interim storage facility for the radioactive waste that is to be retrieved from the Asse II mine. In a statement of opinion regarding the “enlightenment report”, the BGE addresses the key points of criticism, as well as setting out why an interim storage facility close to the Asse is beneficial for successful retrieval. Given the complexity of the retrieval project, the BGE believes that any further stage of complexity – such as an interim storage site located far away from the Asse facility – represents a risk to the project as a whole.
Possible alternative sites that have been the subject of public discussions are addressed as part of the statement of opinion, which also sets out the reasons for rejecting these sites. As well as the reduced complexity because waste will initially only be transported within the site, there are also advantages in terms of land use, the possible risks of transport on public railways and roads, and radiation protection – primarily for the workforce but also for the general public.
The statement of opinion sets out that: “The key reasons for choosing an interim storage site close to the Asse were the reduction in logistics costs, the simplification of handling as part of internal processes, and the lower radiation exposure in this version relative to all other possible locations due to integration of the facility into the existing site.”
A site near the Asse takes up less space
Apart from the technical advantages, the BGE also considers it almost impossible to carry out a site comparison with potential sites far away from the Asse. There are no sites that could be used for such a comparison that would not lead to the same discussions as those that arose in the vicinity of the Asse II mine – and it is unlikely that local authorities will volunteer to host the facility.
One argument that has received little weight in discussions so far is land use. The waste treatment plant and the buffer warehouse that the BGE is currently planning in the vicinity of the Asse can be repurposed as an interim storage facility during the course of retrieval. Were an interim storage facility to be built far away from the Asse, it would be necessary to build a hall where up to 200,000 cubic metres of waste could ultimately be stored until a repository could be found and built for this waste. In other words, it would be necessary to build a second, large industrial facility, complete with the necessary logistics and plant security – and at a location that could derive no future benefit from retrieval. To compound matters, it would be necessary to assign further security staff to the site for a period of decades.
“Dialogue leads to better planning”
The BGE sees no realistic possibility of implementing the wishes of the Asse-2 Monitoring Group (A2B) and the Comparison of Options Working Group (AGO) for a site comparison with two sites located far away from the Asse. However, the BGE is by all means prepared to work closely with the A2B to discuss how the waste treatment plant and interim storage facility should be built close to the Asse. The BGE is always willing to talk when it comes to discussing how implementation can be carried out. It hopes that dialogue and discussion with the region will lead to further improvement of the plans. “In the past, many questions surrounding retrieval have improved thanks to dialogue with the AGO and A2B. We’d like to continue with this approach in the future,” says Dr Thomas Lautsch, Technical Managing Director of the BGE.
About the BGE
The BGE is a federally owned company within the portfolio of the Federal Environment Ministry. On 25 April 2017, the BGE assumed responsibility from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection as the operator of the Asse II mine and the Konrad and Morsleben repositories. Its other tasks include searching for a repository site for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste produced in Germany on the basis of the Repository Site Selection Act, which entered into force in May 2017. The managing directors are Stefan Studt (Chair), Steffen Kanitz (Deputy Chair) and Dr Thomas Lautsch (Technical Managing Director).