Actors and responsibilities
Article 73(1) of the Basic Law gives the federal government exclusive legislative power with respect to the disposal of radioactive substances. The responsibilities for the final disposal of radioactive waste are regulated in the Atomic Energy Act (AtG). Section 9a(3) of the AtG assigns the task of constructing final repositories for radioactive waste to the Federal Republic of Germany.
The federal government has delegated this task and the associated sovereign powers to the BGE. The federal government continues to play a supervisory role.
Among others, the following actors are involved in the disposal of radioactive waste:
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV)
The Federal Environment Ministry is a partner of the BGE and supervises the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) from a technical and legal perspective. For the radiation protection it 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 and the Nuclear Waste Management Commission, 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 in Germany. Working on behalf of the federal government, it is the regulatory and supervisory authority for the final disposal of radioactive waste and therefore the supervisor of final repositories and the licensing authority for all newly submitted final repository projects in Germany. In addition, the BASE is the competent authority for the approval of transports and interim storage facilities for highly radioactive substances. The BASE is also responsible for public participation in the site selection procedure.
Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH (BGE)
The BGE is a federally owned company that has been entrusted with tasks resulting from the Repository Site Selection Act (StandAG). Namely with searching for, constructing and operating a final repository for high-level radioactive waste materials. Since April 2017, it has also been the operator of the Asse II mine and the Konrad and Morsleben final repositories.
The BGE is responsible for the construction, operation and decommissioning of final repositories. The BGE has a subsidiary, BGE TEC, which also offers expertise relating to final repositories on an international basis.
National Citizens’ Oversight Committee
With its pluralistic composition, the independent National Citizens' Oversight Committee (NBG) is intended to advise on the site selection procedure from a public interest perspective. The NBG consists of 12 recognised figures from public life, who are appointed by the Bundestag and Bundesrat. In addition to these experts, citizens also form part of the NBG. These six citizens’ representatives are nominated as part of a participatory process and appointed by the Federal Environment Minister.
BGZ Gesellschaft für Zwischenlagerung mbH
Working on behalf of the federal government, BGZ ensures safe and reliable operation of the Ahaus and Gorleben interim storage facilities. On 1 January 2019, the licensed, decentralised interim storage facilities at the locations of Germany’s nuclear power plants were handed over to BGZ. Since 2020, BGZ has also managed interim storage facilities for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste at the locations of German nuclear power plants. With this, responsibility for interim storage of radioactive waste from power companies has been brought under one roof.
The work of state actors in relation to final disposal receives critical support from civil society organisations. Among others, these include the following:
The professional disposal of radioactive waste is a very broad task involving numerous actors.