Contaminated site clean-up experience

Contaminated site clean-up in Germany is primarily associated with the decommissioning and dismantling of former nuclear facilities. Germany has considerable experience in the decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear facilities. The preferred decommissioning strategy in Germany is the imme­diate dismantling of facilities as opposed to safe enclosure. The BMWi chose this option for the Greifswald nuclear power station, where five reac­tors had been operating. The former 100 MWe Niederaichbach NPP site was declared safe for unrestricted agricultural use in mid-1995. In addition to the Niederaichbach NPP, the Karlstein superheated reactor has also been fully decommissioned and returned to a ‘green-field’ state. Seventeen addi­tional NPPs are at various stages of decommissioning and dismantling. Additionally, 28 research reactors and 11 facilities associated with the nuclear fuel cycle have either completed decommissioning or are currently being decommissioned. As mentioned previously, as a result of the incident at the Fukushima nuclear station, the plans for the complete phase-out of German nuclear power production are being accelerated and considerable effort will be required with respect to the dismantling and decommissioning of the remaining German NPPs.

Decommissioning of nuclear facilities in Germany is based on the pol­luter-pays principle. With the exception of NPPs associated with the former GDR, the electric utilities are responsible for all current and former opera­tional NPPs. Responsibility for NPPs associated with the former GDR was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bunde — sministeriums fur Wirtschaft und Technologie, BMWi) in accordance with the German Reunification Treaty. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium fur Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) is responsible for the management and decommissioning of nuclear research facilities.

Germany’s first commercial nuclear reactor, the 250 MWe Gundremmin — gen-A unit, operated from 1966 to 1977; decommissioning started in 1983. In 1990, using specifically developed underwater cutting technologies, dismantling of the highly contaminated portions of the facility began. Gundremmingen-A demonstrated that decommissioning could be undertaken safely and economically without long delays. Most of the metal from the facility was also successfully recycled (Hore-Lacy, 2009).

Decommissioning of the 17 currently operating and recently shut down reactors is expected to produce some 115,000 m3 of decommissioning wastes (WNA, 2011). Decommissioning wastes which fall under the control of the AtG with negligible heat-generating capacity will be disposed of at the Konrad repository once the facility becomes operational. Heat-generating waste will remain at interim storage sites pending the availability of a final repository.

Prior to German reunification in 1990, the former GDR in conjunction with the former Soviet Union developed the world’s third-largest uranium mining province operated by the joint German-Soviet company Wismut SAG. Operations continued from 1946 to 1990 for a total production of 220,000 tonnes of uranium. A significantly smaller uranium ore mining operation was also conducted in western Germany near Ellweiler. Germany no longer mines uranium currently and all uranium used in fuel production is imported. The sites have largely been restored to green-field status (Wismut GmbH, 2011; MUFV, 2011).

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