German NPP decommissioning possible by 2040

13 May 2016

Decommissioning and dismantling of German NPPs can "realistically" be completed by 2040, according to Erich Gerhards, head of decommissioning and disposal (D&D) at E.ON Kernkraft. He told the 2016 Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology in Hamburg that post-operation and defuelling activities will take 3-5 years, dismantling will require between 10 and 15 years, and the final dismantling of the buildings will require up to two years. He said D&D is a "solved problem" in Germany, but the question of a final repository remains open.

He noted that some tasks, such as the removal of used fuel and the availability of conventional waste sites, are "critical or can become critical in the short term" and immediate action is "required or recommended". The German state should contribute to the optimisation of D&D activities by ensuring the commissioning of the Schacht Konrad iron ore mine in Lower Saxony as a nationwide repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste by 2023 at the latest, Gerhards said. He added that the projected costs for defuelling, dismantling, waste management, demolition, and construction of interim storage facilities will amount to approximately €1bn ($1.14bn) for each plant.

Meanwhile, France's Areva NP has been awarded a contract by E.ON Kernkraft to decontaminate Germany's single-unit Grafenrheinfeld NPP. The 1,275MWe pressurized water reactor was shut down in June 2015 as part of Germany's nuclear phase-out policy. Decontamination of the plant - expected to be completed in late 2016 - will reduce the radiation level in the reactor pressure vessel, auxiliary systems and piping.

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