Decision on new search for nuclear waste repository nears

decision on new search for nuclear waste repository nears

Spd and grune insist that the federal office for radiation protection be given a central role. According to negotiation circles, it could take over the assessment of possible sites and operate the repository. Due to EU legal requirements, the federal ministry for the environment sees the need for a second authority that could control the search.

Informal talks are currently underway; on wednesday afternoon, german environment minister peter altmaier (CDU) was scheduled to meet with the environment ministers of the german states. As soon as there is an agreement, especially with the SPD and green leaders, on the details of the search law, there could be a final bund-lander meeting. The cabinet then had to decide on a draft law and then the bundestag had to discuss it.

However, the environment ministry denied a report in the newspaper "die welt" on tuesday, according to which there was already a new agreed draft bill. The paper cited is also not the basis of the ongoing exploratory talks, said a spokesman. According to the report, a new federal office for nuclear safety should be created to coordinate the search for a repository for highly radioactive nuclear waste.

The new federal authority is to be responsible for the "scientific elaboration of the decision-making and assessment bases, the determination of the site-related exploration programs and test criteria," according to the draft law. Accordingly, the selection of a site is to be completed by 2027. The cost was estimated at two billion euros. Participants in the bund-lander meeting told the german press agency they were not aware of any such new draft.

Since 1977, only gorleben salt dome has been in focus – but critics doubt its suitability. Even in the face of strong protests, the search is to be restarted to enable an open-ended comparison defined by clear criteria. Based on a "white map," gorleben should be treated like any other possible site. Exploration work should therefore be stopped there. Altmaier wants to talk to all parties involved in gorleben in the next few weeks.

At each stage of the process, gorleben could be eliminated from a new search. Lower saxony’s environment minister stefan birkner (FDP) stressed that it was by no means a matter of pushing gorleben through the back door. One problem for an agreement is that the greens and the SPD in lower saxony are insisting on a political exclusion of gorleben.

Trust in a factual decision is not there in the region after almost 40 years of focus on the gorleben site, lower saxony’s SPD leadership candidate stephan weil told deutschlandradio kultur on wednesday. "I think after such a long time, it’s time to keep the books," demanded weil. In lower saxony, a new state parliament will be elected at the beginning of 2013, so the federal government wants to regulate the repository issue before then.