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Decentralised interim storage facilities: Sites and occupancy

  • The nuclear power plant operators' obligation to ensure the interim storage of the spent fuel elements originating from their operation at the nuclear power plant sites has been laid down in the amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of April 2002.
  • One achievement of the decentralised interim storage facilities in operation is that no further transports will be required within the Federal Republic of Germany, for example from the nuclear power plants to central interim storage facilities.
  • The on-site interim storage facilities have been licensed for exactly specified amounts of spent fuel elements (defined in tons of heavy metal) and for an exactly specified number of cask storage locations.

Origin and storage of radioactive waste  in Germany Entstehung und Lagerung radioaktiver Abfälle in DeutschlandOrigin and storage of radioactive waste in Germany

The nuclear power plant operators' obligation to ensure the interim storage of the spent fuel elements originating from their operation at the nuclear power plant sites has been laid down in the amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of April 2002.

The duty to prove precautionary measures for disposal of radioactive waste continues to be effective, proof being furnished through storage in the on-site interim storage facilities. Additionally, the delivery of spent fuel elements to the reprocessing plants in France and the United Kingdom after 30 June 2005 was banned.

The spent fuel elements are dry-stored in special transport and storage casks (for example of the CASTOR type). One achievement of the decentralised interim storage facilities in operation is that no further transports will be required within the Federal Republic of Germany, for example from the nuclear power plants to central interim storage facilities.

Planned and already constructed on-site interim storage facilities

Already between 1998 and 2000, nuclear power plant operators had filed applications for the storage of nuclear fuels in the form of spent fuel elements in on-site interim storage facilities.

The storage licences were granted by the end of 2003. Following a construction period of about three years, the on-site interim storage facilities were commissioned in 2006/2007. Starting with the emplacement of the first cask, operating times are licensed for max. 40 years, since federal government had planned to have a federal repository available after this period.

It is planned to store the spent nuclear fuels that are currently stored intermediately at the Obrigheim location at the Neckarwestheim on-site interim storage facility. The respective licence was granted in August 2016.

Apart from the on-site interim storage facilities there is another interim storage facility, the AVR cask storage facility in Jülich, where 152 casks containing fuel elements from the former AVR experimental reactor are stored. It was already licensed in 1993 for a period of 20 years. More inforemation on the AVR cask storage facility is available here.

Licensed cask storage locations – occupancy and need

The on-site interim storage facilities have been licensed for exactly specified amounts of spent fuel elements (defined in tons of heavy metal) and for an exactly specified number of cask storage locations.

The licensed amounts of heavy metal or storage locations originally depended on the operating times of maximal 32 years that were laid down together with the nuclear power phase-out in 2002. As a result of the early shut-down of altogether eight nuclear power plants in 2011 following the reactor accident in Fukushima Daiichi and the reduction of operating times of the other nuclear power plants, the licensed storage location capacities will probably not be exhausted.

The table entitled "Survey of on-site interim storage facilities" includes the waste resulting from the operation of nuclear power plants in the column "Cask storage locations total required". The waste to be returned from reconditioning plants in Great Britain and France is not included in this estimate. With respect to castor casks containing radioactive waste to be returned (in German only) from reconditioning plants in France and Great Britain, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the utility companies plan to store the 5 casks containing vitrified radioactive waste from the reconditioning plant in La Hague/France at the on-site interim storage facility of Philippsburg. The interim storage facilities at the Biblis, Brokdorf and Isar sites will each receive 7 castor casks containing vitrified radioactive waste from the reconditioning plant in Sellafield/Great Britain.

Survey of on-site interim storage facilities
Site,
Federal state
Commiss-ioningMass Heavy
metal in tons (Mg)
Activity (Bq)Heat output (MW)Cask storage
locations
licensed
Cask storage
locations
occupied
(end of 2015)
Cask storage
locations total
required (estimated)*
Biblis,
Hessen
18.05.20061.4008,5 x 1019 5,313552 102
Brokdorf,
Schleswig-Holstein
05.03.2007 1.0005,5 x 10193,751002975
Brunsbüttel,
Schleswig-Holstein
05.02.2006450 6 x 10192 809 19
Grafenrheinfeld,
Bavaria
27.02.2006 8005 x 1019 3,5 882153
Grohnde,
Lower Saxony
27.04.20061.0005,5 x 1019 3,751002774
Gundremmingen,
Bavaria
25.08.20061.8502,4 x 1020619242 181
Isar,
Bavaria
12.03.20071.5001,5 x 1020 615235118
Krümmel,
Schleswig-Holstein
14.11.20067750,96 x 1020 3802141
Lingen,
Lower Saxony
10.12.20021.2506,9 x 1019 4,712538 87
Neckarwestheim,
Baden-Württemberg
06.12.20061.6008,3 x 1019 3,515153113
Philippsburg,
Baden-Württemberg
19.03.20071.6001,5 x 1020 615240102
Unterweser,
Lower Saxony
18.06.20078004,4 x 1019 38027 38
Obrigheim,
Baden-Württemberg
--1004,2 x 10180,3-- **----

*In the estimation of the number of cask storage locations in the on-site interim storage facilities that are needed in future it is assumed that it will not be possible to transport casks to a conditioning plant for future disposal. It is furthermore assumed that, for dismantling purposes, all fuel elements need to be taken from the wet-storage facility to the on-site interim storage facility once the NPP has been decommissioned. It is furthermore assumed that no cask will only be loaded in parts and that the residual operating times will be exhausted entirely.
** 15 cask storage locations have been applied for for the Obrigheim on-site interim storage facility. At the same time EnBW applied for the permission to store 15 containers at the interim storage facility of Neckarwestheim. The respective licence was granted in August 2016.

State of 2017.01.16

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