Germans are starting over in their search for a permanent nuclear waste storage site. For more than 3 decades, the country has been storing its waste at a site called Gorleben, in Lower Saxony near the former border between East and West Germany. Germany has spent an estimated €1.6 billion building and testing the Gorleben facility, but the choice has long been controversial. At a meeting today between the federal environment minister and officials from the 16 German Länder (states), leaders agreed to work toward drafting a law that will govern a new search. A task force will begin work this month, and should have a draft law ready by next summer.
The search will consider sites all over the country, including Gorleben, said environment minister Norbert Röttgen at a press conference today. There will be “no taboos.” Leaders in the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which host a majority of the country’s nuclear power plants, had long argued against a new site selection process, in part because granite and clay deposits there are likely to be on the list of possible candidates. But officials in both states now say they are open to a new search.
That offers a new opportunity, says Jürgen Trittin, former environment minister and head of the Green Party. “For the first time in 3 decades we have the chance to reach a consensus” on the issue, he told German television channel ARD. Marcel Huber, Bavaria’s environment minister told the press conference, “The geology is the deciding factor, not the geography.”
Gretchen Vogel. Germany to Look for New Nuclear Waste Site, Science, Nov. 11, 2011