The operation of nuclear power plants produces high-level radioactive waste which will ultimately be disposed of in a repository in deep geological formations. For low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, a repository is now being built at Schacht Konrad (Konrad pit). However, until a repository site is selected and comes into operation – which, according to current estimates, is likely to take until 2050 – these highly radioactive substances must be stored safely. At present, most of this waste is kept in on-site interim storage facilities at the German nuclear power plants or in central interim storage facilities whose existing licences expire between 2034 and 2046/47. The extension of interim storage therefore presents policy-makers and society with multiple challenges: technical, organisational and social.
Researchers from the Oeko-Institut work on various aspects of interim storage of radioactive waste and compile expert opinions, reports and studies on this topic. They address basic questions relating to key aspects of safety, draw attention to challenges in the licensing and regulatory process, and provide scientific expertise to support the dialogue with the public. Knowledge-sharing and maintenance of skills are other focal points of the Oeko-Institut’s technical work.