Court Rebuffs Calls for Alternative Repository Site Exploration

Berlin, 10.07.2006

The Atomic Energy Act does not provide for the alternative exploration of possible sites for the final disposal of radioactive waste. This has once more been made clear by Lüneburg Supreme Administrative Court in the reason published today for its judgement of March 2006 on the issue of the `Konrad Mine` repository. "This is all about finding a repository that is deemed suitable on the grounds that it is safe. The licensed `Konrad Mine` repository fulfils the safety requirements of the Atomic Energy Act," Dr. Walter Hohlefelder, President of the German Atomic Forum, commented on this issue.

With its ruling the Supreme Administrative Court rejected the claims against the licence of the `Konrad Mine` as a repository for low-and medium-active waste, granted by the Lower Saxon environment ministry in 2002. The ruling was not admitted for appeal. With the decision by the Supreme Administrative Court, the clarification of the court in the main proceedings which the Federal Government and the power utilities had agreed to await in their Agreement of 11 June 2001 has now been provided. "The development of the `Konrad Mine` repository now has to be pushed ahead without further delay so that it can start operation in 2012 at the latest," Dr. Hohlefelder demanded.

The ruling is a clear rebuff to political calls for a `best-possible` repository site. "There is no such thing as a repository that would be safest ? either a site is safe or it isn`t," Dr. Hohlefelder continued. For example, explorations carried out so far at the Gorleben salt dome show that it is suitable to host high-active waste. As even now that the so-called doubtful issues have been cleared there is nothing that speaks against the salt dome, there is no reason why its further exploration - with no foregone conclusion - should not be resumed without delay. Any alternative site exploration before the work at Gorleben has been completed - e. g. on the basis of a Repository Search Act - would postpone the start of final disposal by decades and lead to additional costs amounting to billions of euros. "The exploration of alternative sites is not subject of the agreement between the Federal Government and the power utilities," Dr. Hohlefelder stressed as a concluding remark.

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