Search for German waste dump goes on

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The German government is to investigate whether a temporary nuclear waste storage site in the town of Gorleben could be turned into a permanent facility. The review, due to start in October, may be overseen by private bodies.

Opposition parties including the SPD and Greens criticise both the review and the privatisation plans. They regard the Gorleben salt mine as geologically unsuitable. It has been used as a temporary storage facility for nuclear waste since 1983.

A first decision to consider Gorleben as a permanent site was taken 30 years ago under a conservative government. A parliamentary subcommittee is investigating whether this decision was based on scientific evidence or was politically motivated. The existing government says further studies are needed.

According to the radiation protection agency BfS, German nuclear plants will produce 21,600 tonnes of highly radioactive waste until 2040. This includes between 4,400 and 4,800 tonnes caused by the planned lifetime extension of the plants.

According to newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the government plans to allow the privatisation of the Gorleben and Schacht Konrad nuclear waste facilities currently operated by BfS. The SPD and Greens called the plan irresponsible.

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