The German parliament has passed a law which begins the formal procedure for a site to be found for a national repository for the country’s high-level radioactive waste.
After approval by the Bundestag, the law also passed the Bundesrat, which represents Germany’s 16 federal states at national level.
The law creates a 33-member commission to develop “basic principles” for site selection such as safety and economic requirements as well as selection criteria for rock formations.
The commission will consist of a chairperson, eight representatives from the Bundestag, eight from the Bundesrat, eight from academia, as well as two representatives each from civil society organisations of religious communities, industry, the environment and the trade unions.
To ensure maximum transparency, their meetings will be open to the public.
The commission will recommend possible locations for a new high-level radioactive waste disposal site to the Bundestag, which will decide by 2031.
In order to conform to EU rules on the separation of operators and regulatory authorities, a new regulator – the Federal Office for Nuclear Waste Disposal – will be established next year.
Germany’s government has decided to shut down all of the country’s 17 nuclear reactor units by 2022. Eight of those units remain offline following the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident. Nine are still in commercial operation.