06 Nov 2019, 13:32
Benjamin Wehrmann

Nuclear power experts meet in Berlin to debate best ways for plant dismantling

Clean Energy Wire

International experts of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) are meeting in Germany's capital Berlin to debate the regulatory aspects of nuclear power plant dismantling, the German environment ministry (BMU) says in a press release. Even though the country plans to close its last nuclear power reactor in 2022, "we want to continue to actively take part in international expert talks" to improve global safety levels regarding nuclear energy, the ministry said. Environment minister Svenja Schulze said "safety has to be guaranteed at nuclear plants until the last day of operation. And of course operators also have to make sure the highest level of safety is also kept in post-shutdown operation, during decommissioning and during dismantling." Schulze said international knowledge exchange is an important asset in this regard, to which Germany could contribute substantially thanks to its experiences in taking down decommissioned nuclear power stations, first carried out in the country in the late 1960s. There currently are 25 nuclear power reactors designated for decommissioning in Germany which have to be dismantled over the next years, the BMU said.

While Germany has agreed on an end date for nuclear power, it still grapples with finding a final repository for the radioactive waste that has accrued during the plants' lifetime. The government has initiated a series of public consultation events after a multi-stakeholder commission proposed a new search starting with a “blank map” and aiming to find a suitable site by 2031. Germany will have to store around 28,100 cubic metres of high-level radioactive waste by 2080, for up to several million years.

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