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Gorleben interim storage facility

The Gorleben transport cask storage facility (TBL) is a storage facility for the storage of nuclear fuels in the form of spent fuel elements from light-water reactors and of HAW vitrified waste block canisters (vitrified high-level radioactive fission product solutions from the reprocessing of German fuel elements). The operator plans to store other radioactive material from the Gorleben waste storage facility (ALG) in the TBL Gorleben, too, in the future. The TBL is situated within the territory of the municipality of Gorleben (rural district of Lüchow-Dannenberg), about two kilometres to the south of Gorleben. It is operated by the Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH (GNS). Another licence holder is the Brennelementlager Gorleben GmbH (BLG).

The TBL Gorleben was constructed in 1982/1983. The storage hall consists of a receiving and maintenance area and a storage area with a capacity to store 420 casks.

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. The nuclear regulatory authority is the Lower Saxon Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection.

Occupancy

Storage facility occupancy

Currently, altogether 113 casks containing nuclear fuels are stored in the TBL Gorleben, of which

  • five contain spent fuel elements and
  • 108 contain HAW vitrified waste block canisters originating from the reprocessing of German spent fuel elements at AREVA NC in La Hague (France).

Storage licences

Granted storage licences

The storage licence granted by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) on 2 June 1995 is effective until 31 December 2034. Accordingly, maximum 3,800 megagrams (= 3,800 tons) of nuclear fuels

  • in the form of spent fuel elements from light-water reactors in CASTOR casks and
  • in the form of HAW vitrified waste block canisters (also in CASTOR casks) and in one TS 28V cask

may be stored in an upright position on 420 storage positions in the TBL Gorleben.

1. Modification licence

With the 1st modification licence of 1 December 2000, the storage of spent fuel elements from light-water reactors in other cask types was licensed. However, later on it was decided to do without the storage of nuclear fuel in some of the approved types and the extent of the licence was adapted correspondingly in the scope of the 3rd modification licence.

2. Modification licence

The 2nd modification licence granted on 18 January 2002 permits the storage of HAW vitrified waste block canisters in casks of the modified CASTOR HAW 20/28CG SN 1 type. The modification consists of slight changes such as the improvement of the neutron shielding through an increase in the moderator mass in the casks wall.

3. Modification licence

The 3rd modification licence granted on 23 May 2007 permits the storage of the French TN85 cask type for HAW vitrified waste block canisters with a higher thermal output of up to 56 kilowatt (kW) per casks.

4. Modification licence

The 4th modification licence (non-official version*, in German only) was granted on 29 January 2010, permitting the storage of HAW vitrified waste block canisters from AREVA NC also in casks of the new CASTOR HAW28M type in the TBL Gorleben. When loaded with 28 waste block containers, the casks can have a maximum thermal output of 56 kW. Furthermore, the 4th modification licence includes a modified positioning of the previously licensed transport and storage casks of the French TN85 type.

*The term “non-official version” means the (not legally binding) 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 ongoing licensing procedure 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 Gorleben

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 Gorleben transport cask storage facility. The previous licence holders GNS – Gesellschaft für Nuklearservice mbH and the BLG – Brennelementlager Gorleben 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.

Extension of structural protection of the TBL Gorleben

With letter dated 20 May 2011, the GNS applied for the extension of the structural protection of the TBL Gorleben from disruptive acts or other interference by third parties. The retrofitting measures serve to optimise the security measures. Apart from a nuclear licence granted by the BfS, the implementation of the measures also requires building approval by the rural district of Lüchow-Dannenberg.

Storage of other radioactive material in the TBL Gorleben applied for

With letter dated 5 December 2013, the GNS applied for the storage of other radioactive material in a part of the TBL Gorleben’ storage hall. The other radioactive material consists of non-heat-generating waste that is currently stored in the Gorleben waste storage facility. In the part of the TBL storage hall that has been reserved for this waste, no transport and storage casks containing nuclear fuels have been stored.

Additional facilities on site

Apart from the transport cask storage facility Gorleben, the site houses other facilities, the Gorleben waste storage facility and the Gorleben pilot conditioning plant. Both facilities are operated by the GNS.

  • The Gorleben waste storage facility serves to store radioactive waste with negligible heat generation. The Lower Saxony Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate is the competent licensing and supervisory authority.
  • The Lower Saxon Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection is the competent licensing authority for the Gorleben pilot conditioning plant. In the facility, especially packaging techniques are to be developed and optimised for later safe disposal of radioactive material. Furthermore, repairs of casks containing spent fuel elements can be carried out in the Gorleben pilot conditioning plant (in German only) or casks can be reloaded.
State of 2017.06.30

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management