What to do with nuclear waste? (Germany)

Gero Rueter, Deutsche Welle

Fifty years after Germany began using nuclear power, the country is once again looking for a suitable nuclear waste storage facility. Search priorities include transparency, safety and scientific criteria.

The German government, together with the opposition, hopes to approve a so-called depository site law for nuclear waste ahead of federal elections in September. The Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, on Friday (June 28) will vote on the planned legislation.

After a nearly 35-year controversy over the suitability of a salt mine in Gorleben in northern Germany as a potential site for storing high-level nuclear waste, the search for a storage site will begin again. The bipartisan compromise is considered historic.

A 33-member commission will have until 2016 to establish the scientific criteria for the search for a long-term storage site in Germany. Politicians will make up half of the commission with the rest of the seats being filled by scientists, anti-nuclear activists and other representatives of society. A storage site could be found by 2031, but it is not likely to start operation before 2040.