Overview of German Atomic Energy Act

In Germany, the regulatory framework for nuclear facilities and related radioactive waste (RAW) management is based on a hierarchy of acts, ordinances, safety rules and guidelines, and is consistent with pertinent European Law. The fundamental law governing all German nuclear facili­ties is the ‘Law Over the Peaceful Use of the Nuclear Energy and the Protection against their Dangers’ of 1959 as amended, also known as the Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz — AtG). In its original form, the AtG provided the basis for licensing and regulating nuclear facilities and the

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d Nuclear power plant (operational)

ДІ Nuclear power plant (shut down)

♦ Centralized interim storage Research reactor interim storage U Application for interim storage facility I I Opertional interim storage facility ^Exploratory mine ^Nuclear waste repository


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Map of major German nuclear installations (ZLN — Zwischen Lager Nord (Interim Storage North); dates indicate year of NPP shut down or planned shut down). Source: Provided by the German Company for the Construction and Operation of Waste Repositories (DBE), Peine, Germany.

effects of ionizing radiation as well as for the handling and disposal of nuclear wastes. However, under the coalition government elected in 1998 between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party, the AtG was amended, based on agreements negotiated between the federal govern­ment and the major electrical utilities, to promote the phase-out of electric­ity production from nuclear energy (AtG §1). The amendment went into effect in April 2002. A key component of the AtG, as amended, was the implementation of a lifetime cap of 2,623.31 TWh on all operating nuclear power plants, which translated to an average 32-year total operational life for the existing facilities. In December 2010 the AtG was again amended
by the then-current coalition government to increase the cap by 1,804.278 TWh, thus extending the lifetime of the 17 remaining nuclear power plants by an average of 12 years (AtG §7(1a); Annex 3), and to include the provision for land expropriation contingencies for the study and development of nuclear waste repositories, if needed (AtG §9d and 9e). The AtG further assigns regulatory responsibilities between the federal govern­ment and the German Lander (Federal States) and makes provisions for the delegation of activities to third-party entities (AtG §9a(3)).

The recent incidents involving the Daiichi Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, resulted in a freeze on plans by the German federal government to extend nuclear power plant operating life as announced by Chancellor Merkel on 14 March 2011. On 30 May 2011, the German federal government announced plans to leave off-line the seven oldest NPPs, which were immediately powered down after the disaster. An additional reactor, which had previously been shut down for maintenance purposes, will also remain off-line. The remain­ing operational NPPs will be shut down by 2022. The corresponding changes to the AtG were ratified by the German Parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat) and incorporated into the AtG by German Federal Law Gazette 2011 Part I No. 43. The changes to the AtG became effective as of 6 August 2011.

Independent of the phase-out of nuclear energy in Germany, ensuring human and environmental protection requires a permanent solu­tion for the RAW that has been and will continue to be generated. The disposal of these wastes in geological repositories is the only solution that ensures the protection of both humans and the environment for future generations.

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