On 25 April 2017, the operator responsibilities for the Asse II mine as well as the Konrad and Morsleben repositories were transferred to the Federal Company for Radioactive Waste Disposal (Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH, BGE). This website of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) will therefore no longer be updated and displays the status as on 24 April 2017. You will find current information at the BGE: www.bge.de

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What happens in Asse?

Works for safe decommissioning

Emergency preparedness: Documentation of several years of open discussion about the safety of the Asse mine

The Asse mine is a salt mine which, after having been kept open for decades, is particularly confronted with one problem: The salt rock has become brittle and cracky; experts cannot rule out the mine’s drowning (uncontrollable flooding). And: Experts cannot predict when the emergency will occur – not even whether it would be possible to retrieve the radioactive wastes completely by then.

For this reason, at an early point in time and parallel to all decommissioning work to be carried out, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection took care of all necessary safety measures serving to

  • Reduce the emergency risk by stabilisation measures, and
  • Minimise the consequences of an emergency by precautionary and emergency measures.

2009: First public event on emergency planning

Michael Hoffmann (BfS) presented the BfS emergency plans for the Asse II mine Info-Veranstaltung zur Notfallplanung am 27.04.2010 in RemlingenMichael Hoffmann (BfS) presented the BfS emergency plans for the Asse II mine

Already in 2009, after BfS had been designated by law as the responsible operator of the mine, a first concept on emergency preparedness was presented to the public. From the start, all parties involved have agreed that emergency planning is important and necessary.

Again and again, there have been different positions regarding the technical details of implementation and their evaluation. BfS has been in an open dialogue with the Asse II Monitoring Group and the respective technical body, the AGO, and with the licensing and regulatory authorities involved over many years.

Intense discussion and safety demands

When looking at the year-long debate, a contradiction met by all parties involved in the decommissioning procedure needs to be taken into account: An intensive technical and also public exchange is important but also very time-consuming. Time, however, is a factor that is in conflict with a best possible timely implementation of emergency preparedness. BfS as the operator of the Asse mine is responsible for safety.

Due to the long duration of the debate, which makes it difficult to get a good overview, BfS has documented and bundled the exchange of arguments, doubts and positions here. All documents on this topic could and can be viewed.

PeriodWhat it is about...
August 2009BfS experts inform about emergency preparedness in Remlingen on 20 August 2009.
February to November 2010
  • On 28 February 2010, BfS presents a report with the title "Emergency preparedness for the Asse repository".
  • This is followed by an event for the general public in Remlingen on 27 April 2010.
  • The AGO make their statement. Conclusion: Emergency preparedness necessary but interaction with retrieval must be examined.
  • BfS presents its concept of emergency preparedness and "Topfkonzept" and their necessity to the Monitoring Group on 5 November 2010.
January 2012Expert workshop on the status of retrieval on 18/19 January 2012. Conclusion: Emergency preparedness is vital to ensure that operation continues for the long time it takes to retrieve the wastes.
Februar and March 2012
  • BMU Decree of 7 February 2012: The importance of emergency preparedness is emphasised and order is given for optimisation.
  • BMU Decree of 1 March 2012: "Retrieval can only be implemented once the preparations for emergency preparedness have been completed."
November 2012Expert workshop on emergency preparedness in Wolfenbüttel on 20/21 November 2012: Experts agree upon the necessity of the measures.
January to June 2013
  • The discussions on emergency preparedness are intensified. BfS initiates an exchange of expertise between the AGO, members of the Monitoring Group and BfS experts.
  • In a letter dated 13 May 2013, the AGO confirms the necessity of local stabilisation measures indicating, however, the lack of a drainage concept.
  • On 13 June 2013, BfS informs BMU about the objectives and backgrounds of measures to be taken on the 750-m level. A concept for holding the brine is announced.
July and August 2013
  • Statement of the Nuclear Waste Management Commission and the Commission on Radiological Protection of 11 July 2013. The BfS emergency plan is widely supported.
  • BMU Decree of 31 July 2013: "The implementation of the precautionary emergency measures in the Asse II mine has top priority, in particular when it is prerequisite for the retrieval of the radioactive wastes...."
  • On 19 August 2013, the Monitoring Group abandons the exchange of expertise regarding the concreting work to be carried out. BfS takes an official position on this issue.
  • In a letter dated 19 August 2013, BfS points out to the Monitoring Group that the decisions made as the mine’s operator have been made in co-ordination with BMU.
September 2013
  • In a letter letter to the Monitoring Group dated 5 September 2013, the BfS President expresses his concerns about the tone adopted in the debate becoming harsher. He encourages an exchange of views on the co-operation in the context of the monitoring process.
  • 20. September 2013: In a press release, Asse-GmbH comments on the necessity of the planned measures.
  • 30. September 2013: Citizens' event about the planned measures and the content of the debate at INFO ASSE.
July and August 2014
September to December 2014
  • FAQs on the topic emergency preparedness/brine holding are published on the BfS homepage on 14 September 2014.
  • The brine holding concept is discussed in the AGO meeting of 24 September 2014.
  • AGO presents its statement on the BfS concept on 17 November 2014.
  • On 20 November 2014, Asse II Monitoring Group informs on the topic in Wolfenbüttel. For BfS it was not possible to attend since the AGO statement had only been available shortly before the event. BfS comments on the issue.
  • On 17 December 2014, BfS President König informs the Environmental Committee of the German Parliament about status and objectives of emergency preparedness.
February to August 2015
  • On 19 February 2015, BfS comments on the AGO's points of criticism of the BfS concept on brine holding.
  • BfS picks up on the suggestions made by AGO and examines different variants to keep the 750-m level open (feasibility study).
  • In addition to the technical study, a risk assessment of keeping the level open is conducted.
May 2016
  • BfS publishes the study on risk assessment together with the feasibility study. The studies are emailed to AGO on 6 May 2016.
  • The risk assessment finally becomes the basis for decisions to be made on the further procedure. BfS informs the public about its decision on the internet on 6 May 2016.
August 2016After the Repository Surveillance unit has consented the currently planned stabilisation measures of BfS under nuclear law, the Federal State Mining Authority gives its approval.
September and October 2016
  • On 2 September 2016, the Monitoring Group demands a moratorium on the currently planned stabilisation measures.
  • With letter of 17 October 2016, BMUB informs the Monitoring Group that it cannot follow the request for a moratorium.
November 2016Expert talk between AGO and BfS with the participation of the constituency office Sigmar Gabriel on 9 November 2016.
State of 2016.11.09

Transfer of operator responsibilities

On 25 April 2017, the operator responsibilities for the Asse II mine as well as the Konrad and Morsleben repositories were transferred to the Federal Company for Radioactive Waste Disposal (Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH, BGE). Previously, the responsibility for the projects was with the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS). The foundations for the change of operatorship are laid down in the "Act on the Realignment of the Organisational Structures in the Field of Radioactive Waste Disposal", which became effective on 30 July 2016. The BfS focusses on the federal tasks of radiation protection, for example in the field of defence against nuclear hazards, medical research, mobile communication, UV protection or the measuring networks for environmental radioactivity.

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