Tag Archives: Germany nuclear power

Off the Hook: Nuclear Power Companies in Germany

location of nuclear plants Germany, Image from wikipedia.

Germany aims to phase out its nine remaining reactors by 2022, faster than almost any country

On  December 12, 2016 , it cut a deal with the nuclear power companies operating in the country that would guarantee them a ceiling on costs related to radioactive waste, lawmakers said  on December 12, 2016  Germany’s E.ON SE, RWE AG, EnBW AG and Sweden’s Vattenfall AB already set aside about €17 billion ($18 billion) to finance the disposal of radioactive waste after the government moved to ban nuclear power five years ago. Now  they would pay an additional €6 billion into a public fund but be off the hook for any further payments if the cost of processing the radioactive material were to balloon out of control in the decades to come, as many experts fear.  The companies have also agreed to drop some of the lawsuits they filed against the government after the nuclear ban….

The government and the power companies are moving toward “legal certainty,” said Oliver Krischer, a lawmaker with the Greens on Monday. But “to bring a lasting peace to the topic, the nuclear power plant companies should drop their remaining disputes at the national level and in international tribunals,” he said. Vattenfall is suing Germany for around €5 billion in arbitration at Washington’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Excerpt Germany Cuts Deal With Nuclear Power Companies Over Waste Costs, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 12, 2016

Radioactive Boars and Malware, Nuclear Power Plants Germany

Wild Boar, image from wikipedia

A computer virus has been found in a nuclear power plant in Bavaria…The virus was found in Block B of the nuclear reactor at Gundremmingen in western Bavaria, a statement released by the power plant said.  The malware is well known to IT specialists and it attempts to create a connection to the internet without the user of the computer choosing to do so, the statement added…[T]he virus posed no danger to the public as all the computers which are responsible for controlling the plant are disconnected from one another and not connected to the internet. The virus is also not capable of manipulating the functions of the power plant, the statement claims. State authorities have been informed about the issues and specialists from the energy firm RWE are examining the computer system to asses how it became infected with the virus..

Germans are very sensitive to the dangers of nuclear technology,.. As recent as 2010, officials found traces of radioactivity connected to the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in German wildlife, like wild boar.,,,Shortly after the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country would phase out nuclear power by 2021….

Several newspapers reported that the terrorists behind the Paris attacks had the plans for a German nuclear facility, a claim later denied by German intelligence. Then, days later, it was found that inspectors responsible for carrying out safety checks at two nuclear plants had submitted fake reports.

Excerpts from Computer Virus in Bavarian Nuclear Plant, http://www.thelocal.de/, Apr. 26, 2016

Germany is Nervous-Belgium Nuclear Plants

Doel nuclear power station

Germany asked Belgium to take Engie SA’s Tihange-2 and Doel-3 atomic plants offline until the safety concerns can be addressed, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said on April 20, 2016 in an emailed statement. The two facilities, which were shut for investigations for 20 months, are safe to operate, Belgium’s nuclear regulator AFCN said in response to the request…

Engie’s Belgian unit Electrabel operates the two reactors. AFCN decided Nov. 17, 2015 that the reactors were safe to restart after investigations of the steel walls of the reactor vessels. With the approval, AFCN concluded the defects don’t affect safety. The two units account for about 14 percent of the nation’s installed power capacity…

Germany is phasing out nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns in Japan in 2011, instead developing an energy market built on wind and solar power. The nation is set to close down its remaining eight reactors by 2022.

The plants resumed output by the end of last year. Germany wasn’t satisfied with AFCN’s assessment and called for a Belgium-German working group and for the national independent reactor safety commission, known as RSK, to examine the security issue. The commission concluded that in case of an incident it is unclear that safety provisions are adequate….Doel-3 has a capacity of 1,006 megawatts, while Tihange-2 has a capacity of 1,008 megawatts. The units have permission to operate until their retirement on Oct. 1, 2022, and Feb. 1, 2023, respectively, according to AFCN’s website

Excerpts In unprecedented move, Germany asks Belgium to halt two reactors over safety concerns, Bloomberg, Apr. 20, 2016

Management of Nuclear Waste in Germany

Nuclear Power plant Brunsbüttel.  Image from wikipedia

Inspectors in northern Germany have found that a third of barrels containing radioactive waste at a decommissioned nuclear plant are damaged, the Schleswig-Holstein Environment Ministry said on Thursday.  Vattenfall, the energy company which manages the Brunsbüttel site in Schlewswig-Holstein, reported that 102 of the 335 barrels stored in the site’s six underground chambers were corroded, leaking or had loose lids.  Some of the containers are so deformed that they can no longer be moved, as they no longer fit into the robotic gripping arms installed at the site, the inspectors reported.  “The chambers are secure and there is no danger for the personnel or the local population,” Vattenfall said in a statement released on Thursday,

The Brunsbüttel site harbours 631 barrels of nuclear waste in its six chambers, which have been used for storing waste since 1979. The nuclear power plant was decommissioned in 2011.  The barrels contain resin used for water filters, residue from contaminated water and various other types of waste.

So far, Vattenfall has only inspected four of the six chambers using remote cameras.  The chambers themselves are built from concrete and have walls over a metre thick to prevent radiation escaping into the surrounding environment.  The energy company has sent a proposal to the Schlewsig-Holstein Environment Ministry for making the storage facility more secure, including by installing dehumidifiers to slow corrosion, which has yet to be approved by government experts.  “The chambers [at Brunsbüttel] were supposed to be a temporary storage facility,” Vattenfall said in a statement on Thursday. “They weren’t designed to for long-term containment.”

It was originally planned to store the barrels at Brunsbüttel until they were moved to the ‘Konrad’ mine shaft site in Lower Saxony.This permanent storage facility was to be completed by the mid- to late 90s, but has been subject to successive delays. Completion dates in 2014 has been missed and a target of 2019 is also unlikely.  The latest estimate for completion is the start of the next decade.

One in three nuclear waste barrels damaged, The Local Germany, Oct. 10, 2014

Nuclear Power May be Gone, but Nuclear Waste is Here

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