High-level radioactive waste (HLW) will remain dangerous for time spans beyond human comprehension. Depending on the half-life and quantity, it can take millions of years for a radioactive element to decay to the point where its radiation load no longer poses an unacceptable threat to human health and the environment. Germany’s search for a repository site for 17,000 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste is grounded in a scientifically based and transparent procedure which was enshrined in law in 2017. The Repository Site Section Act provides for a multi-step process in which the search is progressively narrowed down towards a site “that delivers the best possible safety”. As a key element of the process, extensive public consultation is envisaged at every stage.
Researchers from the Oeko-Institut have been sharing their expertise in independent reports and statements on interim and final storage of radioactive waste for many years. They sit on various expert commissions and provide impartial and independent information about the site selection process. They offer specialist advice to government, technical authorities and policy-makers and support public consultation processes.