April 22, 2013
The German government wants to find a site to store nuclear waste – just not in Gorleben, for many years the preferred location. But many politicians are revisiting the battles of the past.
It was a day to make Peter Altmaier happy. The sociable German environment minister is considered a bridge-builder, a Christian Democrat (CDU) who can do well with the environmental specialists of the opposition. Again and again he had invited leaders of the Greens and the Social Democrats (SPD) to his Berlin apartment to try to wine and dine them into a consensus on the vexed question of the nuclear waste repository in Germany. Finally, it worked.
“The battles of yesteryear have been overcome, we are entering a new era,” he rejoiced in early April.
Out with the old, in with the new
What he meant was that in the coming years, Germany will be examining several candidate sites for a deep repository for high-level radioactive radiation waste from nuclear power plants. A committee of politicians and experts will first establish the criteria, then select and compare four or five sites to select the best suited location, where a shaft will then be excavated and used for waste disposal.
The plan sounds straight-forward and transparent. The people who live near the sites are to be constantly informed and involved. And the whole concept fits tidily into the intention of phasing out nuclear power that the Christian Democrat-Free Democrat (FDP) coalition government hastily agreed to after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.