Thursday, June 10, 2021

Nuclear waste: France and Germany find agreement on taking back containers

 Source: WELT

Germany has agreed with France on a new way to take back castors containing highly radioactive nuclear waste. According to a joint information paper from the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Environment Ministry, three to five containers with highly radioactive nuclear waste are to be returned from La Hague, France, to the Philippsburg interim storage facility in Baden-Württemberg by 2024. This would complete the return of all nuclear waste that Germany has to take back from France. According to the ministries, the agreement should be decided in plenary this Thursday.

The original plan provided for the return of 157 containers with medium-level radioactive material from the French plant in La Hague. Five castor casks with medium-level radioactive waste were originally intended to be returned to the Philippsburg interim storage facility and 152 casks with medium-level metal residues from refurbished fuel assemblies to the Ahaus interim storage facility in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The ministries explain that this solution was not feasible "due to technical difficulties with the intended TGC27 container design" and would have resulted in a delay in transport until the 1940s. Contrary to what was initially planned, 152 containers with radioactive metal residues are now to remain in France. For this purpose, in addition to the Castor transports to Philippsburg, 30 empty fuel element transport casks are to be brought to the German interim storage facility in Ahaus. That too is part of the agreement.

The background to the need for action and the long struggle for a solution is an international agreement according to which Germany must take back its nuclear waste that has been reprocessed abroad. This also applies to the waste that is still stored in the reprocessing plants in La Hague, France, and Sellafield, UK.

Germany is taking back the same amount of radioactivity from France as originally agreed, it said. France receives financial compensation. This compensation is therefore made up of private and state funds. Both the German energy suppliers and the state fund for financing the nuclear waste disposal (Kenfo) are involved in the compensation payments. How high the respective funds are initially remained unclear.

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