Morsleben repository at a glance
History of the Morsleben repository
Radioactive waste
Players and responsibilities

Disposal > Morsleben > The repository > Morsleben repository at a glance

Morsleben repository at a glance

Endlager Morsleben - Luftaufnahme

Morsleben repository - aerial view

In the former Bartensleben potash and rock salt mine near Morsleben (Saxony-Anhalt), the GDR set up a repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The Federal Republic of Germany continued to use this repository until 1998. Altogether 36,754 cubic metres of low-level and medium-level radioactive waste have been stored in the Morsleben repository. According to today’s requirements for a repository, Morsleben would not receive a licence for the storage of radioactive waste. An application has been filed for the closure of the repository according to the stipulations of nuclear law.

Decommissioning of the Morsleben repository

The Morsleben repository is to be decommissioned in such a way that man and environment will not be at risk. Decommissioning means the safe enclosure of the radioactive waste from the biosphere in order to keep established protection goals. For this purpose it is planned to take comprehensive construction measures to seal and secure the underground cavities.

Legal requirement is the licence for decommissioning after carrying out a plan-approval procedure under nuclear law. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) submitted the application of this licence to the competent Ministry of Agriculture and Environment of Saxony-Anhalt (MLU).

Grubengebäude des Endlagers Morsleben

Morsleben repository mine openings

Stability of the mine

Investigations into ground stresses and stability carried out in the 1990ies showed weakening of the pillars (rock layer separating two mine openings arranged on top of each other). Such a level of weakening had not been expected.

Thus, there was the risk that, apart from the risk to the personnel due to salt rock falling from the roof, the waste packages containing intermediate-level radioactive waste stored in the emplacement cavities underneath could be damaged and thus radionuclides could be released in the mine openings.

In order to eliminate the risk, cavities were reduced or, respectively, residual cavities were backfilled. The measures concluded in April 2003. The radioactive waste stored in the jeopardised emplacement mine openings has now been covered with an at least 3-m-thick salt layer. Additional cavities in this area are currently being backfilled by the BfS with brown coal filter ash.

Grubengebäude des Endlagers Morsleben mit Einlagerungsbereichen

Morsleben repository mine openings with emplacement areas

Stabilisation of the mine openings

Open cavities in the mine being subjected to permanent loss of safety without taking stabilising measures and forecasts as to the rock-mechanical conditions are uncertain, the BfS stabilised parts of the central part of the Morsleben repository with a special salt concrete between October 2003 and early 2011.

Due to the regeneration of excavation damaged zones, this measure to prevent mining hazards under Mining Law helps to improve the mine’s stability also in the long term, apart from improving the rock-mechanical situation locally.

Thus it is to be ensured that the backfilling and sealing measures required for the planned decommissioning of the repository can be safely implemented following the conclusion of nuclear plan-approval procedure with public participation. With backfilling no anticipatory decision has been taken as to the final decommissioning. The pending decommissioning procedure remains unaffected by the stabilisation works.


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