History of the search for repositories

The search for a repository site for mainly heat-generating radioactive waste is not new. The following selected milestones provide an overview of the history of the search for a repository for heat-developing radioactive waste.

1960

The German 'Atomic Energy Act' comes into force. The permanent storage of radioactive waste is not addressed.

1977

A decision is made by the State of Lower Saxony to use the Gorleben site as a possible nuclear waste disposal centre, with a reprocessing plant, fuel element factory and repository, but the plan is abandoned due to strong civil protest actions. The survey of the Gorleben Salt Stock as a possible repository takes place from 1979 onwards.

1999 - 2002

In 1999, the government sets up a 'Selection Procedure for Repository Sites' workgroup (AkEnd), which submits a recommendation for a sustainable, transparent procedure for the search for and selection of repository sites.

2011

The Federal Government decides to develop a new geological criteria-based procedure with the energy concept of June 6, 2011.

2013

The 'StandAG' (Repository Site Selection Act) comes into force. The aim of the site selection procedure is to find a site for a geological repository for mainly heat-generating radioactive waste by means of a science-based and transparent procedure.

Survey work in the Gorleben Salt Bed is terminated.

2014 - 2016

The Commission for the Storage of Highly-Radioactive Waste (Repository Commission) starts its work in 2014. The panel of experts, appointed on a parity basis, aims to clarify key aspects of the permanent storage of mainly heat-generating radioactive waste. Further objectives are the review of the StandAG itself and the clarification of how the process of the repository search can be organised and which criteria should be used in the search for repositories. The Repository Commission issues its final report in 2016.

2016

The 'Act on the Organisational Restructuring in the Field of Radioactive Waste Storage' enters into force. The operational tasks of site selection, construction and the operation of the repositories and the Asse II and Gorleben minesites are to be bundled in a state-owned company, the Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH (BGE).

The BfE becomes the regulatory, licensing and supervisory authority for the transport of radioactive waste and its interim and permanent storage.

The 'Commission for the Financing of the Nuclear Phase-Out', set up by the government, presents its recommendations: energy supply companies are to transfer around €23.3 billion from the accrued provisions to a state fund; in return, the Federal Government will bear the responsibility for interim and permanent storage and finance this by means of the fund.

2017

Based on the final report of the Repository Commission, the Bundestag (German Parliament) and the Bundesrat (Federal Council) decide to amend the StandAG in March 2017. The StandAG now stipulates a multi-phase search for a site with the best possible safety precautions and the full participation of the public, especially in the regions where the sites will be located. Scientific exclusion, minimum and assessment criteria are defined and an adaptive procedure is developed to enable the revision of decisions and to establish the retrievability of the stored waste for a longer period of time.

Some sections of the BfS are being transferred to the BGE. The Asse-GmbH and the DBE will follow suit.