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Federal government and Lower Saxony agree upon details in terms of keeping Gorleben operable
Joint press release of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and the Lower Saxon Environmental Ministry
Year of issue 2014
The state and the federal state of Lower Saxony have agreed upon details relating to keeping the mine in Gorleben operable in the future. The State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Jochen Flasbarth, and the Lower Saxon Environment Minister, Stefan Wenzel, presented the agreement together.
Having come to this understanding, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks declared:
"With this agreement we are sending a clear signal for the restart of the search for a site to host a repository for high-level radioactive waste. I hope that this step will create confidence in particular among the people living in the area. We want the search to be transparent and with an open outcome, i.e. there will be no prior decisions. No site is favoured but none will be ruled out beforehand, either. The selection will exclusively be made according to scientific criteria still to be determined."
Lower Saxon Environment Minister Stefan Wenzel:
"Our agreement is an important step for the restart. Thus, the end of the pre-determination of Gorleben as a repository site over decades has also been heralded technically. The requirements of the Site Selection Law will be implemented; this agreement is of immense practical and political importance for the Wendland and Lower Saxony."
President of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), Wolfram König:
"With the agreement between the state and the federal state of Lower Saxony, which we have achieved today, a decision has been made for the operator BfS and the staff which is a good and long-term planning basis for the future."
The state and the federal state of Lower Saxony agreed that the mine workings that are kept operational will be reduced to a minimum. Like some parts of the infrastructure area, the previous exploration area 1 will be taken out of operation. In co-ordination with the Lower Saxon police authorities, the major part of the surface security system will be dismantled.
As to the concrete measures that will be taken to keep the mine operational, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection as operator of the facility will submit a new main operating plan by 30 September 2014, at the latest, to the competent mining authority of the federal state of Lower Saxony. With the new main operating plan, it will no longer be possible to visit the mine. When the Site Selection Law became effective, the nuclear plan-approval procedure has become obsolete and has been declared void by the Federal Environment Ministry and the federal state of Lower Saxony.
More works need to be carried out underground to transfer the mine into a state that it is operational. These include, apart from the backfilling of drillings, in particular the removal of the technical equipment from exploration area 1. The measures should be completed within the next two years. State Secretary Flasbarth is confident that a socially acceptable solution will also be found for the mine’s staff once the mine has been brought into a state where it is kept operable.
Exploration works in Gorleben were stopped with the Site Selection Law for a repository for high-level radioactive waste. At the same time it was decided to keep the mine operable, which is to be defined in the new main operating plan. According to the Site Selection Law, the mine has to be kept operable for as long as and if the site is not ruled out in the selection procedure.
State of 2014.07.29