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Licensing of interim storage facilities for nuclear fuels

Since 30 July 2016 the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) is the authority that is competent for the licensing of interim storage facility pursuant to § 6 of the Atomic Energy Act. It took on the tasks from the until then competent Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS). Here you will find information about the licensing procedure and its basic principles, current announcements and the current administration of justice regarding the licensing of interim storage facilities.

Licensing of interim storage facilities

If one intends to store nuclear fuels outside a nuclear power plant in an interim storage facility, this requires a licence granted by the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE). The BfE examines whether the necessary safety for the storage according to the state of the art of science and technology is ensured. The owner of the radioactive material or, respectively, the operator of the interim storage facility as licence holder has the responsibility that all necessary licences are available at any time.

Checkpoint safety

The term safety refers to the necessary precautions to be taken according to the state of the art of science and technology against damage that may result from the storage of nuclear fuels in an interim storage facility. This is about radiological safety in the interim storage facility’s normal operation, in case of incidents during the operation and in case of natural events.


Checkpoint targeted air crash

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, a deliberately caused air crash on a nuclear facility is not probable but cannot be entirely ruled out after the events in the USA on 11 September 2001. In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, the BfS brought attention to this changed security situation when it licensed interim storage facilities. In addition to the crime scenarios contained in the SEWD Guidelines of the Federal Environment Ministry (SEWD = Protection against Disruptive Acts or Other Intervention of Third Parties), the BfS - as at that time competent licensing authority - thus also examined in licensing procedures pursuant to § 6 AtG the consequences of a targeted crash of a wide-bodied aircraft on the interim storage facilities.


In the event that an application is filed for an amendment to the storage licence pursuant to § 6 Atomic Energy Act, the BfE has to examine, among others, whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be carried out in the scope of the licensing procedure. With a rough assessment, the so-called preliminary examination of the individual case, an assessment is made as to whether the modification of the project applied for may have significant environmental effects.

Checkpoint security

For all nuclear facilities and installations, the term "security" stands for the necessary protection against disruptive actions or other third-party intervention (SEWD). That also includes actions motivated by terrorism.

Licensing of interim storage facilities: Current administration of justice

In the years 2002 and 2003, the BfS, being responsible at the time, licensed twelve on-site interim storage facilities. Part of the residents took action against the licences. The objective of the complaints was, among others, that a judicial review be conducted as to whether the protection against terrorist attacks had been taken into account sufficiently when the licence was granted.

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