Navigation and service

Central Interim Storage Facility Ahaus

The Transport Cask Storage Facility (TBL) Ahaus is a storage facility for the storage of nuclear fuels and other radioactive materials. The storage facility is situated in the area of the town of Ahaus (Western Münsterland), approximately 3 kilometres to the east of the town centre. It is operated by GNS Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH.

The Transport Cask Storage Facility Ahaus was constructed between 1984 and 1990. The storage hall consists of two halves separated by a reception and maintenance area (storage facility areas I and II).

  • Storage area I serves the temporary interim storage (max. 10 years) of other radioactive materials according to § 7 Radiation Protection Ordinance (confer background to 6th modification licence).
  • Storage area II currently serves to store fuel elements from light-water reactors (LWR fuel elements), fuel elements from the Rossendorf research reactor and fuel elements from the high-temperature reactor (THTR) in Hamm-Uentrop according to § 6 Atomic Energy Act (AtG).

Since 30 July 2016, the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) is the licensing authority for the storage of nuclear fuels in the TBL Gorleben pursuant to § 6 Atomic Energy Act. It took over this task from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) which had been responsible until that date. Nuclear supervisory authority is the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of North Rhine-Westphalia. Licensing authority for the temporary interim storage of other radioactive materials according to § 7 Radiation Protection Ordinance is the Münster Regional Government.

Occupancy

Storage facility occupancy

Currently, nuclear fuels were stored in altogether 329 CASTOR® casks in the Transport Cask Storage Facility Ahaus:

  • 305 casks CASTOR® THTR/AVR,
  • 2 casks CASTOR® V/19,
  • 1 cask CASTOR® V/19 SN06,
  • 3 casks CASTOR® V/52 and
  • 18 casks CASTOR® MTR2.

Storage licences

Granted storage licences

The storage licence issued by the BfS on 7 November 1997 is effective until 31 December 2036. Accordingly, it is permitted to store max. 3,960 megagrams (=3,960 tons) of nuclear fuel in the form of spent fuel elements from light-water reactors on 370 storing positions in the Transport Cask Storage Facility Ahaus.

Furthermore, it is permitted to store fuel elements of the decommissioned thorium-high-temperature reactor (THTR reactor) in 305 small CASTOR® casks on another 50 storing positions in an upright position.

1. Modification licence

The first modification licence was granted by the BfS on 17 May 2000. According to this licence, it is also permitted to store nuclear fuels in transport and storage casks of the CASTOR® V/19 SN 06 type in the form of

  • WAU fuel elements (fuel elements made from reprocessed uranium),
  • Uranium fuel elements with increased mass of heavy metal and increased initial enrichment as well as
  • MOX fuel elements (mixed-oxide fuel elements) with increased mass of heavy metal and with an increased content of fissile plutonium

which come from pressurised water reactors (PWR).

2. Modification licence

The second modification licence was granted by the BfS on 24 April 2001. Subject matters were stipulations on the max. permissible thermal output of the cask designs, on the handling procedures when using a silver-coated metallic seal for the CASTOR® casks, on modified technical acceptance requirements and on storage facility occupancy.

3. Modification licence

The third modification licence was granted by the BfS on 30 March 2004. This way, not only spent fuel elements from light-water reactors are being stored but fuel elements from the Rossendorf research reactor may be stored, as well, in 18 casks of the CASTOR® MTR2 type.

4. Modification licence

The 4th modification licence was granted by the BfS on 4 July 2008. According to this licence, the hall’s ventilation openings may also remain completely closed. The total thermal output of the emplaced transport and storage casks must not exceed 75 kilowatt (kW).

5. Modification licence

The 5th modification licence was granted by the BfS on 22 December 2008. With this licence the modification of safety equipment, which is listed in a separate letter, is permitted.

6. Modification licence

The 6th modification licence was granted by the BfS on 6 May 2010. It permits the operation of the Transport Cask Storage Facility Ahaus with modifications of the 1,400-kilonewton-storage hall crane and modifications of the storage cask monitoring system. The modifications are linked with the planned use of hall I of the Transport Cask Storage Facility Ahaus for the interim storage of other radioactive materials according to § 7 Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV). The relevant licence according to § 7 StrlSchV was granted by the Münster Regional Government on 9 November 2009.

Background on the 6th modification licence:

Brennelement-Zwischenlager Ahaus GmbH (BZA) and Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH (GNS) filed an application to the Münster Regional Government for the temporary interim storage of low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste in the western part of the two storage areas (storage area I) of the TBL Ahaus for max. ten years. Given that this was a licensing procedure according to § 7 StrlSchV, it was not the BfS but the Münster Regional Government was the competent licensing authority that granted the relevant licence on 9 November 2009. This permit was limited to ten years, starting with the emplacement of the first radioactive material. The limitation ends on 20 July 2020. With letter of 29 August 2016, the GNS and the BZA filed another application for a handling permit pursuant to § 7 StrlSchV to the Münster district government for the interim storage of other radioactive materials in storage area I going beyond the previous period of 10 years.

Simultaneous use of the storage area I according to § 7 StrlSchV and § 6 Atomic Energy Act (StG) is explicitly not provided for. An examination as to whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA) had to be carried out to be granted a licence has shown that this is not necessary.

7. Modification licence

The BfS granted the 7th modification licence (non-official version - available in German*) on 8 February 2016. The licence gives the GNS and the BZA the authorisation to extend the structural protection of the TBL Ahaus against disturbances and other interference by third parties (SEWD). The planned measures serve to optimise the security measures. Their implementation also requires building approval by the city of Ahaus.

8. Änderungsgenehmigung

On 21 July 2016, BfS granted the 8th modification licence (unofficial version – available in German*) to the storage licence for the TBL Ahaus. This licence permits the storage of 152 transport and storage casks of the CASTOR THTR/AVR type containing nuclear fuels in the form of spent ball-shaped fuel elements and operational elements from the former operation of the test reactor of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Versuchsreaktor Jülich (AVR inventory).

Background on the 8th modification licence:

The nuclear fuels contained in these 152 transport and storage casks are currently stored in the AVR-cask storage facility of Jülicher Entsorgungsgesellschaft für Nuklearanlagen mbH (JEN) located on the premises of the Jülich Research Center. Since the licence pursuant to § 6 AtG for the AVR cask storage facility expired on 30 June 2013 at the end of the granted period of 20 years, the casks have been stored since 1 July 2013 in the AVR cask storage facility based on orders pursuant to § 19 para. 3 AtG that were issued by the nuclear regulatory authority, the Ministry of Economy, Energy, Industry, Middle Class and Trade of the Land of North Rhein-Westphalia (MWEIMH). In this context the MWEIMH gave order on 2 July 2014 to immediately remove the nuclear fuels from the AVR cask storage facility and to ensure that they remain with a person entitled to their possession pursuant to § 5 para. 1 sentence 1. With granting the 8th modification licence for the TBL Ahaus, its operators, the GNS Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH and the BZA Brennelement-Zwischenlager Ahaus GmbH, are now entitled to their possession.

Nevertheless, granting the 8th modification licence does not imply that the casks have to be transported to Ahaus immediately. Approving the transports requires a separate transport licence pursuant to § 4 AtG. Carrying out the transports depends on the plans of JEN GmbH which pursues further options to ensure the whereabouts of the AVR inventory in parallel. On the one hand, it is examined whether it will be possible is to take these nuclear fuels to the USA, on the other hand further storage pursuant to § 6 AtG in the AVR-cask storage facility has been applied for.

*The term “non-official version” means the summary of the authorisation framework without licensing effect included in the individual licences (basic licence plus modification licence).

Licensing procedures

Current licensing procedures

In the following ongoing licensing procedures the subject matters are currently examined according to the state of the art of science and technology.

Furthermore, for each modification project it must be determined by means of a preliminary examination according to the law on environmental impact assessment (UVPG) whether the duty to carry out an environmental impact assessment exists. This IEG would include a formal public participation procedure.

BGZ licence co-ownership of the storage licence pursuant to § 6 AtG for the TBL Ahaus

With letter of 15 May 2017, the BGZ – Gesellschaft für Zwischenlagerung mbH applied for the licence co-ownership of the storage licence pursuant to § 6 AtG for the Ahaus transport cask storage facility. The previous licence holders GNS – Gesellschaft für Nuklearservice mbH and the BZA – Brennelement- Zwischenlager Ahaus GmbH have joined in the application. With becoming a co-holder of the licence, the BGZ takes over all rights and duties resulting from the storage licence from the GNS as licence co-holder.

Replacement of the storage hall crane

To fulfil the additional requirements according to KTA 3902 section 4.3 according to § 6 AtG, the GNS and the BZA filed an application with letters of 2 April 2013 and 3 April 2013 for replacing the available storage hall crane.

Storage of fuel elements from German research reactors

With letter of 30 September 2014, the GNS asked for reopening of proceedings under nuclear law for the storage of the spent fuel elements from the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz research neutron source of the Technical University of Munich in the TBL Ahaus. The fuel elements are to be stored in ca. 21 casks of the new CASTOR MTR3 type in the storage area II of the TBL Ahaus.

The storage of spent fuel elements from German research reactors applied for is part of the comprehensive joint application of the BZA and the GNS of 15 September 1995, which, with respect to the research reactor fuel elements, has so far only been granted for the fuel elements from the Rossendorf Research Reactor (cf. above 3rd modification licence of 30 March 2004).

Storage of high-pressure compacted radioactive waste

With letter of 20 December 2006 the BZA and the GNS filed an application according to § 6 AtG to the BfS for the storage of high-pressure compacted radioactive waste (CSD-C, Colis Standard de Déchets Compactés) in transport and storage casks of a newly developed type in the eastern storage area (storage area II).

From the applicants’ point of view, ca. 150 casks containing CSD-C packages are to be stored in the TBL Ahaus. The waste originates from reprocessing at “AREVA NC” and is to be returned from France to Germany.

The cask concept for high-pressure compacted radioactive waste is currently being entirely revised (“TGC27”). Therefore the start of returning the waste from France to Germany will probably be delayed until 2025.

Outlook: Use for the storage of other fuel elements from research reactors

It is intended to use the TBL Ahaus for the storage of further fuel elements from research reactors in casks of the new type CASTOR MTR3 (such as Hahn-Meitner-Institut Berlin (HMI), University of Mainz).

Radiological remote monitoring

Apart from the measurements carried out by the operator in the scope of environmental monitoring, the nuclear supervisory authority carries out measurements that are published on a daily basis:

State of 2017.06.30

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management