German government takes over interim waste storage

09 May 2017

The German government has reached an agreement with GNS Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH on transferring GNS's interim storage activities. Under legislation that came into force last December, the government assumed responsibility for the intermediate storage and final disposal of the country's radioactive waste.

Gorleben - 460 (GNS)
The Gorleben interim storage facility (Image: GNS)

In March, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and GNS established the Bundes Gesellschaft für Zwischenlagern (BGZ) joint venture for this purpose. GNS itself is a joint venture set up in 1974 by German utilities for the management of used fuel and nuclear waste from German power reactors.

GNS announced yesterday it has now reached an agreement with BMUB for the transfer of its share in BGZ. As from 1 August this year, the federal government will become the sole owner of BGZ.

As part of the agreement, GNS will transfer its interim storage activities to the government, including the existing central interim storage facilities in Ahaus and Gorleben. Some 80 GNS employees at both sites will be transferred to BGZ, while around 70 GNS employees at its headquarters in Essen will become responsible for the administration of BGZ.

The management of 12 on-site interim storage facilities at German nuclear power plants will also be transferred to the federal government starting in 2019, GNS said.

GNS chairman Hannes Wimmer said, "We are pleased that our interim storage organisation, which has been tried and tested for more than two decades, is the seed of the new federal interim storages company. This means not only the preservation of all existing GNS jobs involved in temporary storage, but also ensures our comprehensive competence for the continued operation and organisation of all German interim storage facilities with radioactive waste from German nuclear power plants."

PreussenElektra GmbH chairman Guido Knott, also chairman of GNS's supervisory board, said: "By transferring the interim storage activities of GNS and, subsequently, the on-site interim storage facilities to the government, German energy suppliers are making an important contribution to the reorganisation of the responsibility for radioactive waste disposal." He added, "With the other core competences of GNS - ranging from container development and fabrication to disposal services - the new GNS, government and operators will continue to be committed and highly professional."

Following the Fukushima accident in March 2011, the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the withdrawal of the operating licences of eight German nuclear power plants and revived plans to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

In October 2016, the German cabinet adopted a draft bill on financing the decommissioning of the country's nuclear power plants and management of its radioactive waste. The bill came into force in December. Under the draft, the reactor owners involved - EnBW, EOn, RWE and Vattenfall - must pay some €23.6 billion ($25.7 billion) into a state-owned fund for decommissioning of the plants and managing radioactive waste. The amount includes a 35.5% risk premium which exempts them from having to make any additional contributions to the fund.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News