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Licensing of nuclear fuel transports

  • If a carrier wishes to transport nuclear fuels he requires a transport licence. For this purpose he files an application to the BfE.
  • The BfE examines whether the safety criteria are in compliance with the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) § 4 and whether the legal provisions relating to the transport of hazardous materials are met.
  • If all licensing requirements are complied with, the BfE must grant the licence (legally bound administrative act).
  • Which one of the routes applied for is used and when the transport takes place is in the responsibility of the licence holder.

If a carrier wishes to transport nuclear fuels he requires a transport licence. For this purpose he files an application to the Federal Office for Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE). It has taken over this task on 30 July 2016 from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) that had been responsible until then.

Transports of other radioactive materials

Far more often than nuclear fuels, other radioactive materials are transported. For more information about nuclear licensing of transports of other radioactive materials (= no nuclear fuels) see "Who licenses transports of radioactive materials?".

In his application, he states the following:

  • What substances are to be transported (type and amount/volume)?
  • What containers are to be used for the transport?
  • Who carries out the transport?
  • What means of transport are to be used?
  • What route(s) is (are) to be taken?
  • What security measures are planned?

Tasks of the BfE

The BfE examines whether the safety criteria are in compliance with the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) § 4 and whether the legal provisions relating to the transport of hazardous goods are met.

It examines in particular whether the following requirements are fulfilled:

  • The safety of the package (nuclear fuel and container)
  • The applicant’s reliability
  • The reliability and expertise of the persons carrying out the transport
  • The protection against disruptive action or other interference by third parties
  • The required compulsory cover (liability insurance)

Participation of the federal states

In order to examine whether the protection against disruptive action or other impact of third parties is ensured the commission “Security and Protection of Nuclear Installations” (KoSiKern) is involved. The federal state ministries of the interior take part in the KoSiKern. The KoSiKern makes a statement for all involved federal states. This statement is integrated in the licence to be granted by the BfE.

In addition to these nuclear law aspects to be examined by the BfE there might be other reasons opposing a transport applied for. These are especially issues that need not to be evaluated by the BfE but by other institutions such as further federal state authorities. These institutions examine whether there is a public interest opposing the type of transport, the time or the route (usually several alternatives are applied for). Should this be the case the federal state authorities report this to the BfE.

If all licensing requirements are complied with, the BfE must grant the licence (so-called legally bound administrative act).

Transports abroad

The BfE grants transport licences for nuclear fuels for Germany only. The licensing of the exporting is incumbent upon the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control. According to the AtG the licence for exporting must be granted, among others, "if it is ensured that the nuclear fuels to be exported will not be used in a manner jeopardising the international obligations of the Federal Republic of Germany in the field of nuclear energy or the domestic and international security of the Federal Republic of Germany".

Supervision and implementation

Pursuant to nuclear law and dangerous goods regulations, the supervision of the transports of nuclear fuels is with the federal state authorities for the transport modes of road, inland waterways and sea. For transports by plane the federal state authorities are responsible for the supervision pursuant to nuclear law, whereas the supervision pursuant to dangerous goods regulations is with the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt. The Federal Railway Authority is responsible for the supervision of transports by rail pursuant to nuclear law and dangerous goods regulations.

The shipper, the transport licence holder and the carrier are obliged to ensure that all required licences – this includes also those of foreign authorities – are available. Only then can the transport be carried out. This is also examined by the competent supervisory authorities.

Which one of the routes applied for is used and when the transport takes place is in the responsibility of the licence holder and needs to be co-ordinated with the federal state ministries of the interior. Depending on the type of transport this co-ordination may range from informing the ministries of the interior in time up to a detailed co-ordination of transport dates and routes. If required, the ministries of the interior may change the transport route and date.

State of 2018.06.06

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management