Scientists bullied to change nuclear finding

from 19 april 2009

by Diet Simon

When government geologists found a salt deposit unsuitable for the planned German nuclear waste repository, top government officials ordered them to change their findings.

This has been revealed by Professor Helmut Röthemeyer, pensioned former department head of the Federal Physics Technology Agency (PTB), which examined the salt deposit at the northern village Gorleben in the mid-80s.

The PTB commissioned deep drilling of the salt dome and because of what they revealed it advised against using the salt as a final nuclear repository.

Röthemeyer told the Berliner Tageszeitung newspaper that because of the risks in exploring the salt and because of public opposition the PTB suggested investigating other sites.

The drillings hadn't delivered the hoped-for findings, he said. Röthemeyer and his colleagues had discovered that in the Ice Age a runnel was gouged through the stone covering the salt making the stone "unable to hold back contaminations from the biosphere over time".

Röthemeyer said when a meeting was called with another federal agency in Hanover to discuss the findings and the recommendation to explore other sites, unexpectedly representatives of the federal chancellor's [prime minister's] office, the research and technology ministry and the interior ministry also attended.  (There was no environment ministry until after the Chernobyl explosion in Ukraine.)

The ministry officials demanded that the PTB change its findings. "There was nothing in writing," Röthemeyer told the newspaper, "there was no written order, but we clearly had to take that conversation as an order."

The group fighting nuclear waste dumping at Gorleben says they've twice demanded from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), which succeeded the PTB, to hand them records of the position taken by the PTB or to at least see them.

"The irrelevant criteria for the 1977choice of location paired with this wrong course setting in the mid-80s led nuclear waste disposal into the next dead end," says the group's media spokesman, Wolfgang Ehmke.

Delegates from environment advocacy groups and anti-nuclear initiatives met in Hanover over the weekend to agree on tractor trek by farmers from Gorleben to Berlin.

They're mobilising nationwide for a large demonstration in the capital on 5 September to demand an end to nuclear power generation and that Gorleben be dropped as a final waste repository.

Contact:
Wolfgang Ehmke 0170 510 56 06

Bearbeitet am: 30.07.2005/ad


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