On April 15, 2023, nuclear power generation was ended in Germany. This will close a chapter that has occupied society and politics with controversy for decades.

What remains is the challenge of responsibly disposing of the radioactive waste from the operation and dismantling of nuclear power plants. In Germany, repositories in deep geological formations are supposed to be the solution.

Germany has embarked on a fundamentally new path for the final disposal of highly radioactive waste. In a process lasting many years, a safe site for a repository is to be found and approved. To this end, suitable regions in the rock formations salt, clay or crystalline are being investigated throughout Germany.

This is initially done on the basis of existing geological information. All regions are evaluated according to defined criteria. These are minimum site requirements, exclusion criteria and consideration criteria. The staged site selection process first identifies sub-regions, then site regions for surface exploration and, in the final step, sites for underground exploration..

This brief description of the search for a site and the operation of a repository for highly radioactive waste gives an idea of the time, financial, but also personnel effort that will be required. It is expected that the closure of this repository will not be possible until the next century. The final disposal will therefore occupy several generations.

In addition to the major project of searching for a site for a repository for high-level radioactive waste, there are three other repository projects in Germany:

  • The closure of the Morsleben radioactive waste repository (ERAM)
  • The retrieval of 47,000 m³ of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste from the Asse II mine
  • The preparation of the Konrad repository and the subsequent emplacement of about 300,000 m³ of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste

In order to do justice to this responsibility, we need well-trained junior staff in the long term who are able to analyze the interrelationships in this multi-layered subject area and develop suitable solutions taking safety aspects into account.

A major goal of the ELS is to provide this education through a variety of teaching events and formats that comprehensively address the broad aspects of radioactive waste disposal in an impressive, sound and target-group oriented manner.