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In Germany, the Federal Government is responsible for radioactive waste disposal. From this responsibility results the necessity of sufficient knowledge of the volumes to be disposed of.

Waste barrel

What is radioactive waste?

In cases where it is no longer intended (according to the definition set out in the Atomic Energy Act) to use such materials, they are considered radioactive waste. Radioactive wastes are produced when ionising radiation is used in nuclear power plants, in research, in the industry and, in small amounts, in medicine. Pursuant to the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, they must be removed – i.e. disposed of – in a structured way.

Screenshot aus dem Video "Das gelbe Fass - Woher, Wohin?"

Waste types

At the international level there are numerous options to classify radioactive waste. Classification of the waste depends on the planned way of disposal (deep geological formations or near the surface) or the necessary handling of the waste. One frequently differentiates between high-level radioactive waste (HAW), intermediate-level radioactive waste (MAW) and low-level radioactive waste (LAW).


National Waste Management Programme

The National Waste Management Programme sets out the federal government’s strategy for the responsible and safe disposal of radioactive waste in Germany. The programme does not constitute a rule of law. However, any waste management plans and administrative procedures initiated by the stakeholders in the field of nuclear waste management need to respect the programme.

Transport and storage cask CASTOR® HAW28M

Return of radioactive waste

Since 2005, no transports of German fuel elements have been carried out to reprocessing plants, this being no longer permitted since 1 July 2005. Until then, about 6,670 tons of heavy metal (uranium and fission products of the spent fuel elements) were taken to reprocessing plants.

Even though no further transports from Germany to reprocessing plants are carried out, there is still waste stored at the corresponding facilities abroad, waiting to be reprocessed. Therefore, radioactive waste continues to be returned to Germany in casks (CASTOR HAW28M and TGC27) from France, and in future also from the UK.

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management