Subtitle 
126,000 nuclear waste barrels dumped in the Asse II salt mine over the last 50 years

Nuclear waste, a major problem for Germany

by 
22.02.2013 - 15:26

After Fukushima, many governments decided to reconsider their dealings with nuclear stuff.

It seems that nuclear waste has turned into a major problem for Germany. The news magazine Der Spiegel released on 21 February a report about Asse II- an old mine in the German state of Lower Saxony, claiming that its condition and the works being done there have turned not only into a technical, but also into ecological and political problem.

According to the article, some 126,000 barrels of nuclear waste have been dumped in the salt mine to rot over the last 50 years.

Currently, a project to remove the drums from the 100-year-old maze of tunnels has been going on in the mine since the exploratory drilling was launched in June last year. However, according to the magazine, the project is not only technically ambitious and bold, but also foolhardy and, most importantly, costly. It is expected to consume at least €4 billion ($5.3 billion), but more likely somewhere between €5 billion and €10 billion.

The decision to retrieve the barrels also caused a major environmental scandal: not only was the public initially informed that Asse was merely being used to "research" how radioactive waste reacts in a final repository, but it turned out that the mine has been used also as a dump for all manner of contaminated waste.

Der Spiegel also informed about the political side of the matter, saying that German politicians have agreed to enshrine the retrieval of the Asse nuclear waste in Germany's Atomic Energy Act. According to the magazine, this was intended to speed up the highly demanding and arduous licensing process currently required by this legislation.

Moreover, as reported, the Bundestag plans to pass the bill into law before Easter, while the new law will perhaps give politicians some breathing room, and remove the issue of Asse from all the campaigning leading up to the general election scheduled for September.