Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download


WWW.HZDR.DE 18 19 TITLE // THE HZDR RESEARCH MAGAZINE Without a systematic approach and critical assessment of what we already know, it won't be possible to address all of the necessary fields in the future. The Nuclear Waste Management Commission, for example, convened at a two-day workshop last year to discuss the current state of research in Germany and the research that still has to be done. In my opinion practical large-scale biological and chemical experiments will have to supplement the more common test tube research. Added to that, in the future an incremental approach will take on a great deal of importance, so that we can gradually achieve an in-depth understanding of concrete scenarios. For this process as well, someone has to define the research that is important and essential. How is Germany doing in comparison to other European countries? In other countries the interplay of actors is, in part, organized better. Take Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, or France for example. These countries are already in the advanced stages of determining where their repository will be and applying for the necessary approvals. And they have succeeded in bundling their resources in research. The construction permit for the Finnish repository is already set for 2016 or 2017. So from our European neighbors we can learn to ask the really meaningful questions and continue to ask ourselves which answers we will need in 10, 20, or 30 years. Please give a short description of the current working conditions and tasks set for the Repository Commission. The current situation looks like this: The dispute surrounding the Gorleben location tore a rift through Germany, but more than 30 years later this seems to have healed for the most part. For the past two years the great majority has been in agreement that we need to search and find a repository location and be open to what happens. The "Law for the Search and Selection of a Location for a Repository for Heat-Emitting Radioactive Waste," or "Repository Search Law" for short, that was adopted in the summer of 2013 was approved by the vast majority of members of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat approved it unanimously. Everyone sees the necessity of achieving a solution by storing highly radioactive waste in the deep geological layers of the Earth. This widespread acceptance in politics has clearly taken on a new quality in my opinion. The goal and duty of the 33 members of the Repository Commission is to evaluate the Repository Search Law of 2013 once more themselves, make a judgment call on the criteria and safety requirements this law establishes, and put together the search criteria. In any case, the law specifies a very operationalized course of action. Our report must be ready by the middle of 2016 - and that is doable. I am optimistic that this is the basis the Bundestag and Bundesrat need in order to give the go ahead to search for an actual location by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017. Does the Repository Commission's duty end there? Yes, since the law specifies that a project developer – probably the Federal Office for Radiation Protection – should organize the actual location search. The new Federal Office for the Regulation of Nuclear Waste Management will then emerge as a regulating body. All actors must also make sure that they actively engage the public in these processes. Before the final location is legally confirmed, the Bundestag and Bundesrat will have to make several decisions in a stepped process. So the trick will be to maintain a high level of cooperation from politicians over the course of the next several years. RECOGNIZED: Michael Sailer is an expert in reactor safety and nuclear waste storage. Photo: Oeko-Institut