Germany’s Bilfinger said that, on behalf of the Federal Association for Final Storage (BGE), a team of experts is developing special devices with which thousands of barrels with low and medium level radioactive waste are to be safely recovered from the mine.
The barrels are then to be disposed of in accordance with the current state of the art and legislation. The contract has a term of around four years and includes the design and testing of special machines and tools that can be operated remotely.
"With our decades of experience in dealing with radioactive waste and our tailor-made solutions, we help the Federal Association for Final Storage to implement a reliable process for the safe recovery of radioactive waste from the Asse II mine," said Christina Johansson, interim CEO and CFO at Bilfinger. "As a long-term partner of the nuclear industry, we cover the entire life cycle of nuclear facilities: from new construction to modernisation to dismantling and waste treatment."
A team from the Würzburg subsidiary Bilfinger Noell , together with the mining specialist and Thyssen Schachtbau subsidiary OLKO-Maschinentechnik GmbH, will develop and build special machine prototypes with which the radioactive waste stored in metal drums can be remotely recovered and made available for removal. The salvage work is particularly demanding because some of the barrels have been spilled with salt. In addition to the strict requirements of the nuclear sector, the special requirements in mining apply, which means that there are particularly high requirements for the safety of the devices. With the help of special tools from Bilfinger Noell, the barrels will later be safely recovered from a depth of 511 and 725 meters.
"The retrieval of radioactive waste from a disused salt mine is unique in the world and we are pleased that Bilfinger Noell GmbH is at our side in this technologically very demanding project," says Jens Köhler, Head of Asse at BGE.
The Asse II mine is a former salt mine near Braunschweig, which was tested in the 1960s as a repository for radioactive waste. Radioactive waste is stored there on three levels in thousands of metal drums. These are to be recovered in the coming decades using special machines in order to treat the radioactive waste that was stored at that time and to dump it properly in accordance with the current state of the art and legal situation.
Work in the Asse II mine (Photo: Bundesgesellschaft für Finallagerung mbH)