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Legal aspects of decommissioning

In Germany all aspects of the peaceful use of nuclear energy are regulated in the Atomic Energy Act (AtG), which also includes the basic legal conditions for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.

The German legal system is embedded in the comprehensive body of legislation of the European Union (EU). It is also in accordance with the safety standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).

Atomic Energy Act: licence required for decommissioning of nuclear facilities

The Atomic Energy Act (§ 7 (3) AtG) stipulates that a licence is required for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. The licence is granted by the federal state authority.

Radiation Protection Ordinance and Nuclear Licensing Procedure Ordinance

Ordinances based on the Atomic Energy Act, such as the Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV) and the Nuclear Licensing Procedure Ordinance (AtVfV), contain essential regulations for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.

  • The Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV), among others, provides limitations for occupational exposure. Furthermore, the release of radioactive materials from nuclear regulatory control arising in the process of facility decommissioning is regulated in the Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV).
  • The Nuclear Licensing Procedure Ordinance (AtVfV) adresses the course of the licensing process. This includes, among others, provisions on application documents to be submitted, the involvement of third parties, and the public hearing.

Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management

The German law, enforcing the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management came into force in Germany on 18th June 2000. The decommissioning of nuclear facilities, however, is only part of this convention.

Environmental Impact Assessment Act

Also applicable to the decommissioning of nuclear facilities is the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (UVPG). It provides requirements relevant to the procedures, the contents, and the public involvement in connection with the environmental impact assessment.

Substantiation by sublegal rules and regulations

The legal framework is substantiated by the sublegal rules and regulations. The letter is relevant for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. It includes

  • rules of the Nuclear Safety Standards Commission (KTA),
  • regulation of authorities, and
  • technical specifications.

In particular the Decommissioning Guide is relevant to the decommissioning of nuclear facilities licensed in accordance with § 7 of the Atomic Energy Act. It is also part of the sublegal framework which was elaborated by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) within the Federal State Committee for Nuclear Energy with the Decommissioning Working Committee of the Reactor Safety Technical Committee. This decommissioning guideline identifies the provisions relevant to decommissioning which are "scattered" in various sublegal documents and describes their application. It also includes proposals for a practical approach to the decommissioning of nuclear facilities and it serves to harmonise the licensing procedures.

State of 2018.10.23

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management