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DECON INTERVIEW Minimization, disposal and final storage of radioactive waste

Uwe Stoll reports on the decommissioning of nuclear facilities in Germany

There are currently 26 nuclear power plant units in Germany undergoing decommissioning, of which one plant, THTR-300, is in so-called safe enclosure. Decommissioning activities are currently underway at all other power plants, with one nuclear power plant in post-commissioning operation. To date, only three nuclear power plants in Germany have been completely decommissioned and dismantled. This means that 80% of all nuclear power plants in Germany are in the decommissioning or safe influence phase.

If the legal requirements for waste materials change regularly as the commissioning of repositories is delayed, repository packages will have to be repackaged - i.e., unpackaged and re-declared - again and again. Therefore, I believe that more efficient work can be done in this area. A key challenge here remains personnel. Dismantling plants always means that the work will eventually come to an end. Therefore, it is difficult to get people interested in this topic, even though there is still enough work for the next 30 - 40 years. It needs more social acceptance, as well as lucrative funding opportunities.

Martin Rathgeber on the cost of radioactive waste and how to minimize it

An important issue in reducing disposal costs is minimizing radioactive waste through decontamination. We have already developed many methods of decontamination ourselves that go far beyond the standard. As a result, we have over 250 different decontamination agents at our company, because each radionuclide and each matrix in which it is incorporated is different. It is a complex issue. But just minimizing waste costs makes this challenging work worthwhile.

In some states, disposal costs for a 200 liter drum are already around 30,000 euros per unit disposed. At this point, it makes sense to calculate whether the amount of radioactive waste can be minimized by a well thought-out decontamination of ten barrels to one barrel.

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For more information, visit our online DECON event, November 16-19.

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