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Legal bases

There are appropriate provisions and regulations in Germany to regulate the safety of nuclear installations. The requirements for nuclear safety are described in numerous provisions with different degrees of bindingness. The German nuclear regulatory framework presents a hierarchically structured pyramid, the so-called regulatory pyramid.

Safety philosophy

What is the essential basis for existing safety precautions in German nuclear power plants? All nuclear power plants must be able to manage operational malfunctions and so-called design basis accidents in such a way as to ensure there is no fear of damage to the environment. The precautionary measures provided must also be assessed in the light of catastrophic consequences generated by events otherwise considered as highly unlikely.


On behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit - BMUB) the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (Bundesamt für Kerntechnische Entsorgungssicherheit, BfE) is actively engaged in national committees that work in the field of nuclear safety. The main task of the cooperation with national committees is the contribution in the development of national nuclear rules and standards.

The requirements stipulated in national rules and standards shall achieve the best possible precaution against damage according to the state-of-the-art of science and technology. When cooperating with national committees BfE experts pay attention to the compatibility of the rules and standards with the German safety requirements for nuclear power plants and to the consideration of international requirements and experience.


The Federal Office for Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) performs tasks that have been assigned to it by law and ordinances and whose fulfilment is generally based on the state of the art of science and technology. Therefore, the BfE Establishment Act states that the BfE performs research to fulfil its tasks. In the field of nuclear safety, this research creates important foundations and prerequisites to

  • to adapt the safety level in nuclear energy to the advancing state of the art of science and technology,
  • to assess possible risks for man and environment due to the use of nuclear energy,
  • to account for the protection requirement of the general public, and
  • to minimise risks associated with the use of nuclear energy.
Nuclear regulatory body

Licensing and supervision

Protection of man and the environment is one of the most important tasks of the state. This also applies to possible hazards brought about by the operation or decommissioning of nuclear installations. Therefore, nuclear installations for the production, treatment, processing or fission of nuclear fuel must undergo a nuclear licensing procedure for their erection and operation and are permanently subject to state supervision.

Precautions and emergency response

German nuclear power plants are protected against different possible events. For example precautions against power failure and earthquake are implemented.

Accident management measures are foreseen as precaution in case that an event occurs that has not been taken into account and against which the plant is not designed. On-site accident management measures shall prevent and control events exceeding the plant design or mitigate the effects to the environment. If the on-site accident management measures are not sufficient plant-external emergency measures shall reduce the radiation exposure of the human being and the environment.

International Atomic Energy Agency - IAEASource: IAEA

International co-operation

The Federal Office for Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) co-operates with relevant scientific organisations and regulatory bodies on both the national and international level in all its areas of activity, e.g. nuclear safety.

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management