EnBW all set to decommission Neckarwestheim 1

06 February 2017

German power company EnBW has received approval from the Baden-Württemberg ministry of environment to decommission and dismantle unit 1 of the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant. The company expects dismantling work to begin next month and to be completed within 10-15 years.

Neckarwestheim aerial - 460 (EnBW)
Neckarwestheim (Image: EnBW)

EnBW formally applied on 6 May 2013 to the state for permission to decommission and demolish Neckarwestheim 1 (GKN I). The unit was among the eight oldest German reactors taken out of service on the orders of Chancellor Angela Merkel, days after a tsunami hit Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Baden-Württemberg's ministry of environment - which is responsible for nuclear supervision in the state - granted a decommissioning and dismantling permit for GKN I to EnBW on 3 February.

Jörg Michels, managing director of EnBW Kernkraft GmbH, said: "Today we have reached another major milestone in implementing our decommissioning strategy. In 2011, our specialists had set out to plan the dismantling of GKN I conceptually, to prepare the require application documents and to submit them to the supervisory authority in 2013. In the past four years, our documents were then examined in detail by the authority and its experts, and also publicly discussed. At the end of this complex process, the approval and the start of the demolition of GKN I is now ready."

EnBW expects to begin dismantling activities at Neckarwestheim 1 next month. It said it plans to start with the dismantling of the main coolant pipelines in the area of the reactor pressure vessel. Preparations are under way for the subsequent dismantling of installations within the vessel.

According to its current assessment, EnBW expects the dismantling of the nuclear parts of GKN I to take about 10-15 years to complete. The unit would then be released from atomic law and be considered a conventional industrial plant. The demolition or reuse of the remaining buildings would then be decided.

Neckarwestheim 1 was shut down in 2011, while unit 2 is scheduled to close in 2022. Unit 1 of the Philippsburg plant was also closed in 2011, with unit 2 expected to operate until the end of 2019. EnBW said it expects to receive a decommissioning and dismantling permit for Philippsburg 1 "in the near future". Last February, the company received permits for the construction of decommissioning infrastructure - including residual material treatment centres and interim site-waste storage facilities - at Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg.

Michels added, "Our path is a clear commitment to the energy transition and aims at the safe and efficient dismantling of all our nuclear power plants. Today's receipt of the decommissioning permit for GKN 1 encourages us to continue this route consistently. This consistency is also evident in the management of our plants that are still in operation, i.e. the newer units at Philippsburg and Neckarwestheim. In the middle of 2016, we also applied early for decommissioning permits for these plants in order to be able to start the dismantling process as soon as they are shut down."

Baden-Württemberg environment minister Franz Untersteller said GKN I is the first reactor in Baden-Württemberg that can be dismantled within the framework of the nuclear phase-out decided in 2011. This is the beginning of a new stage in the process, he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News