Today, the Federal Council dealt for the first time with Schleswig-Holstein’s legislative initiative seeking in future to rule out completely the existing option referred to as safe enclosure during the decommissioning of nuclear facilities which bypasses the real and current questions. A change in the law would not lead to any increase in the speed of decommissioning for the nuclear power plants shut down in the past year.
German operators have made it quite clear and obvious since the final shutdown of the plants affected that they will approach decommissioning as quickly and efficiently as possible and for their part will arrange everything necessary. This is attested by explicit public statements on the matter and also by specific measures (applications, transparency on site, etc.). In this respect, no operator has currently contemplated the option of safe enclosure possible under the Atomic Energy Act. With regard to speedy processing, the basic ability to influence individual phases during decommissioning hardly exists or does not exist at all. Thus, for example, a certain amount of time is required after shutdown until a nuclear power plant is free of fuel. In contrast, it is very possible indeed to influence other phases in terms of fast implementation. These phases and the basic conditions associated with them are ultimately crucial for swift decommissioning and therefore crucial for the acceptance of the general populace. The first thing to mention here is a reliable and efficient framework within the licensing procedure. This also includes an in-depth, continuous exchange of information and ideas between the regional authorities and the mutual adoption of best practices. In this case, the Federal Government is assigned the important role of constructively and rigorously coordinating the activities of the regional authorities.
Last but not least, timely commissioning of the “Konrad Mine” final repository and clarity regarding the emplacement conditions for low and medium active waste is vital not only for swift decommissioning but also for the production waste already being stored in the nuclear power plants. In this connection, the Federal Government, as the body responsible for the provision of final repositories in Germany, is called to reduce inefficiencies during project implementation or in the interface between the organisations involved and thus to prevent any further delay in commissioning. On the Federal Government’s part, decommissioning also includes transparency regarding the question of by what date it will provide a final repository for high active waste in Germany and what impact this will have on the duration of interim storage. A search for suitable sites starting de facto at “zero” without a statement beforehand on the suitability of the Gorleben salt dome would mean that there would be no final repository available in Germany before 2050. In this respect, the Federal Government is called upon to initiate an open and public dialogue, in particular with the communities at the sites of the interim storage facilities.