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Nuclear waste dump planned for Greifswald

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#361
08/11/1991
Article

(November 8, 1991) PreussenElektra, one of Germany's biggest electricity companies, has plans to store nuclear waste at the Greifswald site in what was formerly the GDR.

(361.3575) WISE Amsterdam - Greifswald was once meant to be a huge nuclear reactor park, but after reunification the existing reactors were shut down and the construction of others was stopped. Now, unemployment -- one of the greatest problems in the former GDR -- is forcing the plant's ex-workers (from the 4,000 in total, at least 1,700 have so far been fired) to look for alternative employment. (This is one of the reasons radioactive waste from the closed reactor at Mülheim-Kärlich is being conditioned at Greifswald.)

PreussenElektra is capitalizing on this fear of unemployment with its plans to build two concrete storage facilities: one for low- and medium-level waste and one for spent fuel rods. Although resistance to the plans are strong in that area, the company claims there is a lot of support for the idea.

Recently, documents relating to the proposal to turn Greifswald into a nuclear dump were sent anonymously to Greenpeace. The plans in these documents go far beyond what PreussenElektra had proposed. They show that the waste facility -- an interim storage facility which is expected to go into operation in 1995 -- is supposed to accommodate 10,000 tonnes of spent fuel elements and 200,000 cubic meters of low- and medium-level radioactive wastes. This is more than the existing and planned interim storage capacities in the "old" FRG altogether. At present, 20 reactors are operating in the FRG. The time-table for the completion of permanent waste storage facilities at Gorleben and Schacht Konrad (which have been subject to delays by strong resistance) could be extended through this plan.

A spokesperson at the German Ministry of Environment said that there were at present no proposals by the industry for a centralized storage facility. The Minister himself has always said that the only nuclear waste that would be stored at the Greifswald site would be the waste produced at Greifswald. But according to Greenpeace the plans are supported not only by the nuclear industry and the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), but also by the Social Democrats (SPD). So far, says Heinz Laing of Greenpeace, only the SPD-government of the Lower Saxony State is opposed to the plans. Meanwhile, though almost all other government authorities are denying that there are such plans, regional communities and trade unions are already opposing them.

Sources:

  • Taz (FRG), 11, 25 & 27 Sept.1991, 15, 16 & 18 Oct.1991
  • Greenpeace press release, 15 Oct. 1991

Contact: Greenpeace Germany, Vorsetzen 53, D-2000 Hamburg 11, FRG; tel: +49(40)31186-0; fax: (40)31186-141; telex: 2164831 GP D. BI Umweltschutz Lüchow-Dannenberg, Drawehner Strasse 3, 3130 Lüchow, FRG.