Chronology of the decommissioning procedure
With the German Reunification on October 3, 1990 the Federal Republic of Germany assumed responsibility for the Morsleben repository for radioactive waste. According to the provisions set out in the Unification Treaty, operation of the Morsleben repository was to be continued until 30 June 2000.
From 1971 to 25 September 1998, a total of 36,754 cubic metres (m3) of radioactive wastes were put into storage at Morsleben, the greatest part of the wastes, that is, 22,321 cubic metres, being transferred between January 1994 and September 1998.
The BfS applied for the decommissioning of the Morsleben repository under nuclear law and initiated a plan-approval procedure. Since the Public Hearing in October 2011, when objectors had the opportunity to express their views and concerns, the Saxony-Anhalt Environment Ministry (MLU) has been revising the up-coming granting of the plan-approval order.
Initiation of the plan-approval procedure
On October 13, 1992 the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) officially applied for initiation of a plan-approval procedure according to article (§) 9b of the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) with the Ministry for the Environment of Sachsen-Anhalt (MLU), as instructed by the then Federal Minister for the Environment. This way it would be possible to operate the Morsleben repository beyond June 30, 2000. BfS subsequently limited the current plan approval procedure to the decommissioning of the repository with its amendment application as of May 9, 1997.
The Scoping Hearing took place in December 1997. The competent plan-approval authority used this Hearing to determine the assessment scope for the environmental research to be carried out within the Environmental Impact Assessment.
Elaboration of the plan documents
BfS performed comprehensive assessment programmes and developed a decommissioning concept for the repository on the basis of the results obtained from its research. Due to the intensive level of salt mining earlier, the mine has a large amount of cavities. The requirements on the plan documents for the decommissioning of the Morsleben repository are high, as Morsleben is the first radioactive waste repository world-wide that is being decommissioned under nuclear law.
The "Decommissioning Plan" was handed over to the competent approval authority, MLU, on September 13, 2005, together with all legally required documents for public display as set out in § 6 of the Ordinance concerning Procedures according to the Atomic Energy Act.
Following a number of technical discussions and comprehensive demands on the part of the approval authority, which partly even requested assessment and approval documents only required for the subsequent detailed evaluation, the public participation documents were completely revised and filed again on January 26, 2009. In September 2009, the approval authority completed the assessment and confirmed that the documents were ready for public display.
Participation of the public started with the approval authority, MLU, putting the documents on public display from 22 October 2009 to 21 December 21 2009 so that citizens would be able to see if they were affected by the project. The documents displayed by MLU as well as a number of other documents relating to the procedure are still available for information purposes via the BfS web pages.
During the display period, all citizens had the opportunity to voice their fears, comments and questions by filing an objection with the approval authority. Even institutions representing public interests, such as public sector agencies and associations, were allowed to file their opinion on the plan documents.
Filing of objections
MLU received roughly 15,000 objections to the planned project. These objections were evaluated by MLU and BfS in preparation of the Public Hearing. The Public Hearing was the next step on the path of public participation.
Objectors can use the Public Hearing to explain their views, concerns and comments and discuss them with the approval authority, MLU, and the applicant body, BfS. This Hearing is one of the most important steps on the path of public participation in the decommissioning procedure.
The licensing authority carried out the Hearing in Oschersleben. The Hearing started on 13 October 2011 and lasted for nine days altogether.
Plan approval order
Following the Public Hearing, MLU will have to decide on every single objections. Once the objections are considered and the application documents for the project are completely assessed, MLU will take a decision on the application for decommissioning the Morsleben repository, filed by BfS.
Public display and legal action
However, even at this point objections and changes will still be possible since the plan-approval order must also be put on public display by MLU. During a period of one month, the objectors and even BfS in its capacity as applicant are entitled to file an action against the plan-approval order with the competent Higher Administrative Court of Magdeburg. In case the plan-approval order includes immediate execution of the project as a whole or of the respective individual measures, implementation of the measures set out in the plan-approval order may start before a final judicial decision is taken. In this case it will also be possible to lodge an appeal with the competent Higher Administrative Court.
State of 2016.02.02