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History of Nuclear Power

  • 1896

    Antoine Henri Becquerel

    Antoine Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity.


  • 1898

    Marie and Pierre Curie

    Marie and Pierre Curie discover the decay of the element radium into other elements, emitting ionising radiation.


  • 1911

    Ernest Rutherford

    Ernest Rutherford develops his theory of the structure of the atom and the radioactive decay. On the basis of this theory, Niels Bohr develops later a model of an atom.


  • 1938

    Otto Hahn

    Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann succeed in demonstrating the fission of the uranium atom.


  • 1939

    Liese Meitner

    Joliot, Halban and Kowarski identify the neutrons released during nuclear fission which initiate a chain reaction. Liese Meitner and Siegfried Flügge calculate the orders of magnitude of the energy released during nuclear fission.


  • 1941

    Werner Heisenberg

    Under the direction of   Werner Heisenberg and Walther Bothe, the "Uranverein" (Uranium Club) constructs a research reactor in which no self-sustaining chain reaction can be produced until the end of war (1945).


  • 1942

    Enrico Fermi

    Enrico Fermi and his staff design and construct the first nuclear test reactor. With the CP-1, they create the first controlled chain reaction.


  • 1951

    EBR 1 in Idaho

    On 20th September, EBR 1 in Idaho, United States, becomes the first experimental reactor to produce electricity from nuclear energy.


  • 1953

    US President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces the "Atoms for Peace" program to the United Nations General Assembly.


  • 1955

    Franz-Joseph Strauß

    When the Federal Republic of Germany achieves sovereignty, it is possible to work on the peaceful utilisation of nuclear energy. Under Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the Federal Government of the period creates the Federal Ministry for Atomic Issues on 16 October and on 26 October appoints Franz-Josef Strauss as the first Minister for Atomic Affairs.


  • 1956

    Construction of nuclear research centres in Hamburg, Jülich, Geesthacht, Berlin and Karlsruhe.


  • 1957

    Nuclear Egg 1957

    On 31st October, the research reactor of the Technical University of Munich - the "nuclear egg" - is put into operation as first reactor in Germany.

    The European Atomic Energy Community EURATOM is established on 25 March and the International Atomic Energy Agency  IAEA is established on 29 July.


  • 1958

    Formation of the Reactor Safety Commission (Reaktorsicherheitskommission - RSK) by order of the Federal Minister for Atomic Energy (August).


  • 1959

    German Atomic Forum event

    The Atomic Energy Act is promulgated in the Federal Republic of Germany It is the legal basis for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants.

    The German Atomic Forum (Deutsches Atomforum e.V.) is established on 26 May and creates a platform for business, science and politics with the aim of promoting the peaceful utilisation of nuclear energy.


  • 1960

    The Atomic Energy Act comes into force on 1 January, the first Radiation Protection Ordinance on 1 September.

    Start of work on the fast breeder project in Karlsruhe.


  • 1961

    Kahl NPP

    On 7 March the first self-built German reactor (FR-2) is put into operation at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Centre. The heavy water reactor is operated with natural uranium.

    In June 1961 the Kahl experimental nuclear power plant (VAK) feeds electricity produced using nuclear energy into the national grid for the first time in the Federal Republic of Germany. The VAK is a boiling water reactor of American design with 16 MW output.


  • 1966

    The research centre Kernforschungszentrum Jülich generates the first chain reaction in Germany with a high-temperature reactor.


    The EUROCHEMIC reprocessing plant in Mol (Belgium) is put into operation with German participation.


    The Rheinsberg nuclear power plant (70 MW), a pressurised water reactor of Soviet design is put into operation in the GDR.


  • 1967

    The experimental program for storage of radioactive waste starts in the Asse salt mine. Between 1967 and 1978 around 124,500 drums containing low active waste and 1,300 drums containing medium active waste are placed into storage in the Asse mine shaft.

    The AVR with 15 MW output, the first high temperature reactor developed in Germany, is put into operation in Jülich.


  • 1968

    The Obrigheim pressurised water reactor feeds electricity into the power supply system for the first time.


  • 1969

    The German Nuclear Society Kerntechnische Gesellschaft e.V. is established on 14 April: An association of scientists, engineers and other experts with the aim of supporting progress in nuclear technology.


  • 1971

    Morsleben repository

    Beginning of final disposal of radioactive waste material at the Morsleben repository (ERAM).

    Commissioning of the Karlsruhe reprocessing plant (WAK) on 7 September.


  • 1972

    Stade NPP

    The commercial nuclear power plants of Stade and Würgassen (light water reactors) start to supply electricity. The Niederaichbach nuclear power plant is put into operation. The gas-cooled heavy water-moderated pressure tube reactor has an output of 100 MW.


  • 1973

    Construction of the fast breeder reactor begins in Kalkar.

    The first (of five in total) unit of the Greifswald nuclear power plant is put into operation.


  • 1974

    Biblis NPP

    The world`s first 1,200-MW unit is started up in Biblis.


  • 1975

    The 12 utilities operating or planning nuclear power plants join to establish the Projektgesellschaft Wiederaufbereitung von Kernbrennstoffen mbH (PWK) for the reprocessing of nuclear fuels.

    Site occupation of the planned Wyhl nuclear power plant.

    Foundation of the Informationskreis Kernenergie.


  • 1976

    Brunsbüttel NPP

    The Biblis B, Neckarwestheim I and Brunsbüttel nuclear power plants are put into operation.

    Anti-nuclear power plant demonstrations in Brokdorf

    The Konrad mine shaft is set up for the exploration and experimental storage of radioactive waste.


  • 1977

    Isar NPP

    After various, pre-service experimental set-ups, the first German reactor of the fast breeder type (KNK II) is put into operation at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Centre.

    Anti-nuclear power plant demonstrations in Kalkar.

    The Isar I nuclear power plant is put into operation on 3 December.


  • 1978

    Unterweser NPP

    The Unterweser nuclear power plant is put into operation on 29 September.


  • 1979

    On 28 March an accident occurrs in the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, USA. The core partially melts down. The containment structure functions as intended.


    On 5 May the Philippsburg 1 nuclear power plant was put into operation.


    International Gorleben hearing on the safety of nuclear waste management facilities. Start of exploration of the Gorleben salt dome as a final repository for high active waste.


  • 1981

    Gorleben

    Start of deep drilling in the Gorleben exploratory mine.

    Violent mass demonstration in Brokdorf.

    The Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant is put into operation on 30 December.


  • 1982

    Konrad Mine

    Laying of the foundation for the first large-scale uranium enrichment plant in the Federal Republic of Germany in Gronau.

    Planning permission application for "Konrad Mine".


  • 1983

    Krümmel NPP

    The first controlled nuclear fission takes place in the THTR-300 thorium high temperature reactor.

    The National Metrology Institute (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt PTB) grants the BLG (Brennelementlager Gorleben GmbH) the storage licence for the Gorleben interim storage facility pursuant to Section 6 of the Atomic Energy Act.

    The Krümmel nuclear power plant is put into operation on 28 September.


  • 1984

    Grohnde NPP

    The Gorleben interim storage facility is put into operation with emplacement of low active waste by Brennelementlager Gorleben GmbH (BGL) as are the Gundremmingen B, Gundremmingen C, Grohnde and Philippsburg 2 nuclear power plants.


  • 1985

    1st nuclear partial licence for construction of the Wackersdorf reprocessing plant.


  • 1986

    Brokdorf NPP

    On 26 April the most serious accident to date in the history of the peaceful utilisation of nuclear energy occurrs in unit four of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former Soviet Union.


    Large-scale demonstration against construction of the Wackersdorf reprocessing plant.


    Establishment of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety (BMU).


    An SPD party conference resolves to phase out nuclear energy within 10 years.


    The IAEO Convention on Early Warning of a Nuclear Accident and the Precautionary Radiation Protection Act passed by the German Bundestag come into force.


    The Brokdorf nuclear power plant is put into operation on 14 October.


  • 1987

    Brennelementlager Gorleben GmbH (BGL)

    The PTB grants Brennelement-Zwischenlager GmbH (BZA) the licence for storage of spent light water fuel assemblies.

    Federal Minister for the Environment Töpfer introduces an integrated measuring and information system for permanent monitoring of environmental radioactivity (IMIS) which is installed in the Federal Republic of Germany and is to be extended.


  • 1988

    Emsland NPP

    The prototype decommissioning of a nuclear power plant (Niederaichbach) is started.

    The Isar 2 and Emsland nuclear power plants are put into operation.


  • 1989

    Neckarwestheim NPP

    The Neckarwestheim II nuclear power plant goes into operation on 3 January.

    The Federal Government resolves that reprocessing in the member states of the European Communities secured by long-term contract could be accepted as part of the integrated waste management concept. Building work on the Wackersdorf reprocessing plant is halted.

    The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) is established in Moscow to increase the safety of nuclear power plants by means of a global exchange of ideas and experience.

    The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) begins work. The amended Radiation Protection Ordinance comes into force.


  • 1990

    The first nuclear partial licence is granted for the construction of the Gorleben pilot conditioning plant (PKA).

    The Atomic Energy Act becomes applicable throughout Germany due to the accession of the new federal states. The Soviet designed Rheinsberg and Greifswald nuclear power plants are shut down.


  • 1991

    The European Energy Charter is signed in The Hague. It is intended to lay the foundations for restructuring of Europe's energy economy.


  • 1992

    Start of the storage of spent THTR/AVR fuel elements at the spent fuel interim storage facility Ahaus.


  • 1993

    After 75 days of negotiation, the debate within the plan approval procedure of the Konrad mine ends.


  • 1994

    MOX processing in Hanau is halted. The legislative authority then also facilitates "direct final disposal" of spent fuel assemblies.


  • 1995

    Castor flask

    Start of storage at the spent fuel storage facility Gorleben (first Castor transport).

    Decision is made on the decommissioning of the Würgassen Nuclear Power Plant.


  • 1998

    Coalition agreement 1998: Gerhard Schröder and Joschka Fischer

    Following the halting of operations, the shutdown procedure for the Morsleben final repository for radioactive waste (ERAM) is introduced.

    The coalition agreement between the SPD and the Green Party resolves to phase out nuclear energy.


  • 2000

    On June 14, the Federal Government and the utility companies initial an agreement about the future operation of the German nuclear power plants. The utilities commit themselves to producing only a certain residual amount of electricity in their nuclear power plants; in return the Federal Government promises that these plants will be able to operate undisturbed.
    Agreement on June 14. 2000

    Gorleben exploration mine: From 1 October a moratorium of no less than three but no more than ten years.

    On December 15, the final unit still in operation at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant - Unit 3 - is closed down for good.


  • 2001

    The agreement initialled on June 14, 2000 by the Federal Government and the German utilities is signed on June 11.


  • 2002

    The contents of the agreement are implemented in the new version of the Atomic Energy Act.
    The new version of the Atomic Energy Act (in German)


  • 2003

    Stade NPP

    The Stade Nuclear Power Plant is decommissioned on November 14 for commercial reasons.


  • 2005

    Olkiluoto (Model)

    The Finnish government grants the nuclear licence for the construction of the first third-generation reactor, Olkiluoto 3, on 17 February.

    The Obrigheim nuclear power plant is shut down on 11 May.

    China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the USA resolve the construction of the ITER fusion reactor in Cadarache (France) on 28 June 2005.

    Processing of methodological, conceptual and safety-related questions regarding exploration of the Gorleben salt dome.


  • 2007

    The licence for the "Konrad mine" achieves legal validity on 3 April on passing of the resolution by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

    The French government grants the licence for construction of the EPR in Flamanville.
    on 10 April.

    The Southwest German Association for Research and Lecturing in Nuclear Technology (Südwestdeutsche Forschungs- und Lehrverbund Kerntechnik KIT) is established on 22 October.

    The Institute for Final Repository Research is established at the TU Clausthal on 5 November.


  • 2008

    The German section of Women in Nuclear (WIN) is established on 1 October.


  • 2009

    Dr. Angela Merkel, Dr. Walter Hohlefelder, Dieter H. Marx (Photo: Guido Bergmann)

    The Federal Office for Radiation Protection becomes the operator of the Asse II mine shaft.

    On 24 February, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection grants the licence for the storage of HAW glass canisters from the Karlsruhe reprocessing plant to ZLN Zwischenlager Nord (Interim Storage Repository North) and Energiewerke Nord (Electricity Suppliers North).

    50th anniversary celebrations of the German Atomic Forum on 1 July in Berlin.


  • 2010

    September: The German coalition government decides to extend the operational lifespans of nuclear power plants by an average of 12 years.

    October: Restart of exploration of the Gorleben salt dome.


  • 2011

    Accident in Japan´s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on 11 March.

    On 30 June German Parliament decides to accelerate phase-out of nuclear power.


 

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