The present resumption of the unprejudiced exploration of the Gorleben salt dome is to be welcomed. It is now a matter of continuing the scientific work in the salt dome as soon as possible and deciding in conclusion whether it is suitable for secure emplacement of high active waste.
It is essential to solve the final repository question regardless of one´s opinion on the use of nuclear energy. This task may no longer be shifted onto coming generations. We must take responsibility for it now. This means that it is necessary to create clarity regarding the suitability of the Gorleben site. Unfortunately, this extremely important State duty has been politically exploited and protracted which has cost unnecessary time. So far all the previous exploration results and scientific investigations have not argued against the suitability of the Gorleben salt dome as a final repository for high active waste. In the Nuclear Energy Agreement of 2001, the Federal Government coalition between the SPD and the Green Party made the following statement on this subject: "The knowledge gained to date about an impervious rock system and thus about the salt?s barrier function has been positively confirmed. Therefore, the geological findings obtained so far ... do not conflict with a potential suitability of the Gorleben salt dome."
It would have been possible to lift the moratorium on exploration long ago after what were referred to as questions of doubt had been dealt with at the end of 2005. The summary report of the responsible Federal Office for Radiation Protection published in November 2005 convincingly documented that all questions of doubt had been clarified and there were no longer any reasons for the stoppage.
Unprejudiced and speedy exploration of the site is also advisable in the interests of the local people who are quite rightly demanding clarity regarding further development in their region. At the same time the exploration process must also be conducted transparently and with the involvement of the locals. In this regard, it is to be welcomed that, over and above the national process, there are plans for an international peer review process where the intention is to examine the preliminary safety analysis for the Gorleben site and any final repository concept to be derived from it.