Decommissioning and dismantling licence granted for Isar 1 nuclear power plant
Nearly six years after Fukushima and Germany's decision to speed up withdrawal from the use of atomic energy, a new stage in the phase-out of nuclear power has begun. For the first time since the 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power in Germany, a nuclear power plant (NPP) has been granted a licence for decommissioning and dismantling. Work on NPP Isar 1 can now get underway. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks commented, "The nuclear phase-out is moving forward. Demolishing a nuclear power plant is extremely complicated and will take decades. Top priority in all the preparatory planning and subsequent dismantling is the safety of the workers, the public and the environment." Demolition of an NPP requires a decommissioning and dismantling licence under nuclear energy legislation, which is granted according to a complex authorisation procedure. A first step was taken on 17 January 2017, when the Bavarian State Ministry for Consumer Protection, with the approval of the BMUB, granted Preussen Elektra GmbH a licence to decommission and dismantle NPP Isar 1. This permits the dismantling of plant parts which have not been assigned to dismantling phase 2 (reactor pressure vessels and biological shield). As the plans now stand, phase 1 of dismantling will be completed by 2023, phase 2 by 2026. A processing centre for residues and wastes will be operated on the Isar 1 site, and subsequently used during the dismantling of Isar 2 as well. The final dismantling of Isar 1 can only be completed when the processing of residues and wastes from the dismantling of Isar 2 has been concluded. The sites of Isar 1 and 2 are therefore only expected to be released from the scope of application of the Atomic Energy Act in around 2040.
Nearly six years ago, on 11 March 2011, a severe earthquake caused a tsunami which hit Japan and led to a core meltdown in the four blocks of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In the wake of this disaster, an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act immediately revoked the operating licences of eight nuclear power plants and stipulated that the remaining nine plants must be permanently shut down in a step-by-step process by 2022 at the latest. Gundremmingen Unit B is the next nuclear power plant which must be permanently shut down, with a final deadline of 31 December 2017. Germany already has considerable experience in decommissioning. To date, 19 power and prototype reactors, over 30 research reactors and 11 nuclear waste management facilities have been dismantled or are at various stages of decommissioning.