Proposed final repository for nuclear waste in Gorleben

Lüchower Straße 8
Gorleben, Lower Saxony

Gorleben is a municipality of 600 inhabitants in the district of Lüchow-Dannenberg in eastern Lower Saxony. The location of a former salt mine, it was designated as a site for the central final storage of nuclear waste. A temporary storage site for used fuel elements opened in 1983.

Located in one of the most remote regions of former West Germany, surrounded in three directions by East Germany, Gorleben has become an iconic symbol of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany. Since the 1970s, the Wendland region around Gorleben has seen huge demonstrations, massive clashes between protesters and the police, as well as staunch campaigns of civil disobedience by farmers and the local population. These protests against the planned nuclear facilities played a key role in the establishment of the Green Party as a key player in German politics. Today, there are four nuclear facilities around Gorleben:

  • A surface-level storage site for nuclear transport containers (Transportbehälterlager) containing used fuel elements
  • A waste storage facility (Abfalllager Gorlegen) for low-level heat-generating radioactive waste from industry and nuclear power plants
  • A pilot conditioning facility (Pilot-Konditionierungsanlage) for preparing nuclear waste for final storage
  • An underground exploratory salt mine (Erkundungsbergwerk Gorleben) to be used as a possible final waste storage

Citizen's initiative Lüchow-Dannenberg (Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow-Dannenberg) is one of the oldest civic anti-nuclear initiatives in Germany. The independent, non-party group was established in 1972 to protest against a planned nuclear power plant on the Elbe River in Langendorf. Later, along with Bäuerliche Notgemeinschaft – a farmer's group – it became one of Germany’s major organisers of anti-nuclear protests. Today, it has some 1,000 members, some of whom are third-generation activists.

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