Gripping new film “Wackersdorf” on successful German protest of nuke reprocessing plant; screens April 11, Washington DC (VIDEO)

April 11, 2019, 6:30 pm
Washington DC

From by Beyond Nuclear

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Click on cc to get English subtitles.

In a season when we remember the nuclear disasters at Fukushima, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, we can also celebrate a hard-won anti-nuclear victory. Beyond Nuclear is honored to be co-hosting a screening of a new feature film, Wackersdorf, the true story of a politician in Southern Germany who at first welcomed the prospect of a nuclear reprocessing plant in his community, then changed his mind and helped lead the protests which contributed to its cancelation.

The screening will take place at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC on April 11 at 6:30pm. The film, a drama in German with English subtitles, will be followed by a discussion with the film’s director, Oliver Haffner, moderated by Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.

Watch the trailer (click on CC at right to choose English subtitles.)

And please contact Beyond Nuclear if you are interested in screening the film.


— Germany: “Nightmare” problems with nuclear waste causes public distrust in disposal plan

“There were people who said it wasn’t a good idea to put radioactive waste down here, but nobody listened to them.”
Annette Parlitz, spokeswoman, Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

From New Scientist

By Fred Pearce in Asse, Germany
January 29, 2016

Major problems at a salt mine where 126,000 drums of radioactive debris are stored are fuelling public distrust of long-term waste disposal plans, reports Fred Pearce from Asse, Germany

Half a kilometre beneath the forests of northern Germany, in an old salt mine, a nightmare is playing out.

A scheme to dig up previously buried nuclear waste is threatening to wreck public support for Germany’s efforts to make a safe transition to a non-nuclear future.

Enough plutonium-bearing radioactive waste is stored here to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools. When engineers backfilled the chambers containing 126,000 drums in the 1970s, they thought they had put it out of harm’s way forever.

But now, the walls of the Asse mine are collapsing and cracks forming, thanks to pressure from surrounding rocks. So the race is on to dig it all up before radioactive residues are flushed to the surface.

It could take decades to resolve. In the meantime, excavations needed to extract the drums could cause new collapses and make the problem worse.

“There were people who said it wasn’t a good idea to put radioactive waste down here, but nobody listened to them,” says Annette Parlitz, spokeswoman for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), as we tour the mine.

This is just one part of Germany’s nuclear nightmare. The country is also wrestling a growing backlog of spent fuel.

And it has to worry about vast volumes of radioactive rubble that will be created as all the country’s 17 nuclear plants are decommissioned by 2022 – a decision taken five years ago, in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The final bill for decommissioning power plants and getting rid of the waste is estimated to be at least €36 billion.

Some 300,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate-level waste requiring long-term shielding, including what is dug from the Asse mine, is earmarked for final burial at the Konrad iron mine in Lower Saxony.

What will happen to the high-level waste, the spent fuel and other highly radioactive waste that must be kept safe for up to a million years is still debated.

Later this year, a Final Storage Commission of politicians and scientists will advise on criteria for choosing a site where deep burial or long-term storage should be under way by 2050.

But its own chairman, veteran parliamentarian Michael Muller, says that timetable is unlikely to be met. “We all believe deep geology is the best option, but I’m not sure if there is enough [public] trust to get the job done,” he says.

Lack of trust

Many anti-nuclear groups are boycotting the commission.

Although they agree Germany must deal with its own waste, they don’t trust the process of choosing a site. They fear that the authorities are secretly fixed on reviving plans for burial at Gorleben, another Lower Saxony salt dome.

Currently, 113 flasks containing high-level waste are housed in a temporary store there.

One flask of high-level waste contains as much radioactivity as 30 Hiroshima bombs,” says Wolfgang Ehmke, who has been a campaigner for 40 years. “We cannot bury this waste here in northern Germany [because] there could be 10 ice ages, with glaciers scraping away the rocks, before the waste is safe.”

The protesters have wide popular support. And the problems at the Asse salt mine have led to further distrust of engineers and their solutions.

The abandoned mine was bought by the German government in 1965, ostensibly to research the suitability of salt domes for disposing of radioactive waste. Yet after two years, without waiting for scientific reports, the authorities secretly turned it into a cheap and supposedly permanent nuclear dump.

By then, 90 per cent of the mine’s 5 million cubic metres of salt had been excavated, and the mine was already buckling under the weight of the rocks above, says Ingo Bautz of the BfS, who oversees activities at the site.

As the walls bent, cracks formed. And because the miners had dug to within 10 metres of the impervious rock, in 1988, underground water started to trickle in.

The true state of affairs only became public knowledge in 2008. Despite hurried backfilling of much of the mine, the degradation continues. Brine seeps in at a rate of around 12,000 litres a day, threatening to flush radioactive material to the surface. “It is a disastrous situation,” says Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Environment.

Painfully slow

In 2011, the BfS ruled that the waste had to be removed. But the task is hard and likely to take decades. Just checking the state of the 13 chambers holding the waste drums is painfully slow. Engineers drilling to reach them through 20 metres of rock don’t know whether the drums have leaked, and of course they cannot risk a release of radioactivity.

Since work started in 2012, just one borehole has been completed into one of the chambers. Engineers say they will need to sink a second shaft and open up big new galleries where the drums can be made safe before they are retrieved.

But exploratory drilling has revealed that the salt dome is not as big as thought, says Bautz.

And unless care is taken to keep clear of the geological barrier, the excavations risk allowing more water in. “We can’t rule out that the mine could flood,” he says. “If that happened, retrieval would be impossible. We would backfill it all.”

Nothing will be moved until at least 2033, says Bautz. Meanwhile the bills keep rising. It costs €140 million a year just to keep the mine safe for work to continue. The final bill will run into many billions.

Is it worth it? Many experts fear that digging up the drums, with consequent risks of radioactive leaks, could create a much greater hazard than leaving them where they are.

A former top official on the project, geochemist Michael Siemann, told the media in 2012 that safe retrieval was unrealistic. “Many people know this, but no one wants to say it.”

“There could be a conflict between protecting future generations and creating risks for today,” Bautz concedes.

Germany may ultimately perform a service to the world if it can pioneer solutions that other nuclear countries may look to in the future, including the UK, which is struggling with its own waste legacy.

But if Germans ever thought that abandoning nuclear power would end their nuclear problems, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

Read more: Waste away: Nuclear power’s eternal problem

Fred Pearce’s costs during the field trip to the mine were paid for by Clean Energy Wire, an independent non-profit media service.

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

— Tellurium-132 detected in Northern Germany

Where is this coming from?

From Allegedly Apparent

April 26, 2016

Shortlink:  Please share widely.


The sampling location, Seehausen, Deutschland (see map, below) is over 100 km from the nearest nuclear plant…

Tellurium-132’s  is a major short-lived FISSION PRODUCT, with a half-life of only 3.2 days, making it a tell-tale sign of a leaking ACTIVE reactor...

Magnitude of detection over 100x larger than after Fukushima

See this article and charts at

Georgia: Savannah River site may get Germany’s nuclear waste; comments due March 11

More information on this proposal is available at!documentDetail;D=DOE_FRDOC_0001-3020

Comment deadline: March 11, 2016

It appears from the Federal Notice that there will be no scoping process public comment period if DOE decides to do an Environmental Impact Statement — see last paragraph highlighted below. That needs to be clarified and contested if so. To be on the safe side, issues that should be covered in the scope of the EIS should be raised in comments filed now.

Direct written comments on the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA to

Tracy Williams
NEPA Compliance Officer
U.S. Department of Energy
P.O. Box B
Aiken, South Carolina 29802

Email comments on the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA  to


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces the availability of its draft environmental assessment (EA) (DOE/EA-1977) evaluating the potential environmental impacts from a proposed action to receive, store, process and disposition spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from the Federal Republic of Germany at DOE’s Savannah River Site (SRS) (Draft German Spent Nuclear Fuel EA). (1) This SNF is composed of kernels containing thorium and U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) embedded in small graphite spheres that were irradiated in research reactors used for experimental and/or demonstration purposes. DOE invites public comments on the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA and is announcing a public meeting.


The 45-day public comment period extends from the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register through March 11, 2016. DOE will consider all comments received via email by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time or postmarked by that date. Comments submitted after that date and time will be considered to the extent practicable.


This Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA is available at the following sites:

To request a print copy of the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA please submit your request to Tracy Williams, NEPA Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy, P.O. Box B, Aiken, South Carolina 29802; or by telephone at (803) 952-8278.

DOE invites Federal agencies, state and local governments, Native American tribes, industry, other organizations, and members of the general public to submit comments on DOE’s Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA. Please direct written comments on the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA to Tracy Williams, NEPA Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy, P.O. Box B, Aiken, South Carolina 29802.

Comments on the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA may also be submitted by email DOE will give equal weight to written comments and oral comments received at the public meeting. Requests to be placed on the German Spent Nuclear Fuel EA mailing list should be directed to Tracy Williams at the postal or email addresses above.

For Further Information Contact

To request further information on SRS spent nuclear fuel disposition activities or background information on the proposed project, please contact Tracy Williams at the address as listed above.

For general information concerning DOE’s NEPA process, contact: Ms. Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GG-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585: (202) 586-4600, or leave a message toll-free, at (800) 472-2756; fax (202) 586-7031; or send an email to

This Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA is available on the DOE NEPA Web site at, and also at the SRS Web site at

NEPA Process

All comments on the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA received during the public comment period will be considered and addressed in the Final Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA. DOE will address comments submitted after the close of the public comment period on the Draft EA to the extent practicable. Following the public comment period, and based on the EA and consideration of all comments received, DOE will either issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or announce its intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). If DOE determines that a FONSI is appropriate, both the Final EA and FONSI will be made available to the public.

If DOE determines that an EIS is needed, either during preparation of the Final Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA or after completing the EA, DOE would issue in the Federal Register a Notice to prepare an EIS. In that case, the June 2014 public comment process would serve as the scoping process that normally would follow a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS.

Issued in Washington, DC on January 15, 2016.
Edgardo DeLeon,
Director, Office of Nuclear Materials Disposition.
[FR Doc. 2016-01371 Filed 1-22-16; 8:45 am]

German region protests, fears Fukushima-style disaster after Belgium restarts aging reactor

From Japan Times

December 16, 2015

Belgian power utility Electrabel restarted an aging nuclear reactor Tuesday after a near two-year shutdown, angering neighboring Germany, which fears the danger of a Fukushima-style meltdown.

Electrabel said it put the Tihange 2 reactor back on line “in complete safety,” despite opposition from officials in adjacent North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

Belgium has been hit by a series of nuclear mishaps in recent years, with three of the country’s seven reactors at one point closed, due in two of the cases to the discovery of micro-cracks in the reactor casings.

The Belgian nuclear authority gave the greenlight to relaunch Tihange 2, as well as another reactor near Antwerp, in November, giving Electrabel permission to operate the plant until its legislated final closure date in 2023.

Garrelt Duin, North Rhine-Westphalia’s economy minister, had warned strongly against the relaunch of Tihange, calling it outright “irresponsible.

Four of Germany’s 10 biggest cities — Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen—- are located within the state.

The city of Aachen, only 60 km (40 miles) from Tihange, said it had explored legal options to stop the reopening but without success.

Germany, unlike Belgium and France, decided to phase out what was a substantial nuclear energy program after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima.

At the time, Belgium also committed to a withdrawal from nuclear power but has since scaled back its ambitions due to a lack of reliable alternatives.

Posted under Fair Use Rules.