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Safety analysis: waste transports to the Konrad final repository pose no risk

New Konrad transport study published

Year of issue 2010
Date 2010.02.11

The transportation of radioactive waste to the Konrad final repository poses no risk to the population, transportation staff, or the environment. This is the conclusion of a safety analysis conducted by the Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS); the findings apply not only to normal transport activities but also to any potential accidents which may occur as a result. The Konrad-Transport-Study thus confirms calculations produced by the GRS as long ago as 1991 on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Environment and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

The Konrad mine in Salzgitter is Germany’s first final repository licensed in accordance with atomic energy legislation. It is intended for the storage of low and intermediate level radioactive waste with negligible heat generation.

"It is understandable that many people are worried about radioactive waste consignments passing through their region. We take such fears and concerns seriously", commented a BfS spokesperson. The study has been produced to take these concerns into account. The results of the study show that waste transports pose no threat to the health of people in the region.

Using current data on the type and quantity of waste to be stored as well as on the logistics of transportation - in accordance with the 2002 planning authorisation - , the study examined what levels of radiation exposure could be caused in the Salzgitter region by the waste transports themselves and any potential accidents. The calculations are based on conservative assumptions. That means that unfavourable conditions are taken as the starting point, such as the permanent residence of persons along the transport route in the case of normal transports or, in the case of an accident, the failure to initiate any countermeasures such as the decontamination of affected areas.

The results show that residents along the waste transport route are subjected to a maximum of 0.02 millisievert of additional radiation exposure per year. This constitutes just two percent of the current legal threshold of 1 mSv. At up to 0.15 mSv, the additional exposure passengers face on a return flight from Frankfurt to New York is considerably higher than the maximum value calculated for transports. Even in the case of transportation staff, exposure rates remain so low that no additional monitoring or protection measures are generally necessary.

A range of potential accidents varying in severity and probability and involving either goods trains or trucks was investigated. This revealed that statistically speaking an accident with attendant radioactive leakage was likely to occur every 260 years. In nine out of ten cases radiation exposure at a distance of 150 metres without the initiation of any countermeasures remained below 0.02 mSv; in 99 of 100 cases the level was below 0.3 mSv. Moreover these findings are also based on the assumption that an affected person will remain resident in this region for 50 years. In the least favourable case scenario which statistically speaking is likely to occur approximately every 10 million years radiation exposure could reach levels of approximately 8 mSv at a distance of 150 metres from the scene of the accident. This is still well below the accident planning value of 50 mSv used for orientation purposes. Overall the potential for radiation exposure detailed in the updated transport risk analysis is considerably lower than the comparative findings contained in the 1991 study.

The study can be viewed on

GRS: 2009 Konrad Transport Study

State of 2010.02.11

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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