What will become of Asse?
Safety for future generations
To rule out hazards for man and environment for today and also for the far future, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) has been preparing the decommissioning of the Asse repository in compliance with the standards of nuclear law. On its way to achieving this aim, the BfS had investigated three different options how the Asse II mine could be safely decommissioned.
One option was to retrieve the waste from the mine and emplace it somewhere else (retrieval). Another option provided for mining new cavities in a deeper part of the salt dome and relocating the waste to this area (relocation). The third option consisted of backfilling the cavities in the mine with concrete to the best possible extent (complete backfilling).
The BfS published the result of the evaluation in January 2010: The prime aim in the decommissioning of Asse is the long-term safety of man and environment. The BfS as the operator of Asse needs to furnish proof that the selected decommissioning option does not put man and environment in the area at risk, not even in the long term. According to the present state of knowledge, this can only be achieved by retrieving the waste from the Asse mine.
The decision was taken with the participation of the general public in a comprehensible procedure whose outcome is not known.
There are still uncertainties regarding the state of the emplacement chambers and the radioactive waste as well as the radiation exposure to the staff while the waste is being retrieved. Therefore, an in-depth finding of facts is initially taking place in emplacement chambers 7 and 12 on the 750-m level in the scope of the trial phase (fact finding).
Finally, the selected decommissioning option must be licensed in a plan-approval procedure by the competent authority, the Lower Saxon Ministry for the Environment and Climate Protection. The BfS has to provide comprehensive evidence about the safety of the selected decommissioning option.