from 28.05.2009 23:27
|( by Diet Simon)
The salt dome at the Gorleben nuclear waste depot in north Germany was developed illegally into a permanent storage facility, claims a newspaper, citing an internal assessment by the government agency that runs the depot. After first refusing to say whether the internal assessment exists, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) now denies that the salt deposit has already been made a final repository. And its also emerged that Angela Merkel, now German chancellor (prime minister), in 1996 ignored scientific warnings by the environment ministry she then headed that keeping nuclear waste in the Gorleben salt was likely to contaminate regional drinking water supplies.
Since work began on the underground facility in the 1980s, only permission for exploration has been granted.
The daily Frankfurter Rundschau of 28 May alleged that without official authorisation, the costs of assessing the salt domes suitability were high because the construction of the permanent storage depot was begun parallel to the investigation.
Although not wanting to confirm the existence of the document, the paper said, the
agency did admit that costs had been higher than necessary. Some 1.5 billion (AUD 3
b) has been invested in the site.
The appearance of the documents has confirmed the doubts of nuclear energy opponents, who all along have alleged that Gorleben was earmarked as final repository before the safety of the salt was adequately investigated.
In response to the newspaper report, the BfS claims that the extent of the works
is approved by mining law but it was correct that shafts and buildings were designed
with view to later usability as final repository.
The BI called on Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, to finally
drop Gorleben as a dump site. It was the only way to regain trust in a fair process of
seeking a waste site, he said.
The programme cited from the document that tectonic movements could press contaminated water upwards to reach drinking water supplies.
"Kontraste" said Merkel did not inform the public at the time.
She had in fact ordered to continue tipping atomic waste from western reactors into the Morsleben mine in Saxony-Anhalt because it was cheap, the magazine claimed; Morsleben was the nuclear dump of former communist East Germany, inherited through German reunion.
Morsleben is as dilapidated as the mine Asse II near Wolfenbüttel which is in danger
of collapsing and is taking in 12 cubic metres of brine daily. It was meant to be the
pilot plant for Gorleben.
The Asse scandals will be subject of a regional parliamentary inquiry in Hanover,
beginning in June.
Shell have to face up to her responsibility and come clean. These attempts
to cover up will have to end.
Social Democrat Gabriel wants a wider search, including Gorleben, while the
conservative-held economics ministry wants exploration in Gorleben finished and if found
suitable to immediately name it the repository.
Neighbouring Switzerland is conducting a storage search of the kind Gabriel wants for Germany. The Swiss are looking at six sites, the best of which is to be determined in a transparent process. Swiss voters have already turned down one site in their plebiscitary voting system.
Four of the Swiss regions being studied are near the German border and Germans living
there are worried. Gabriel says he can understand that, but Germany was being
comprehensively involved in the process.
Power companies are committed to stopping nuclear generation by 2020 but through Merkels conservatives are pushing to have that agreement, made with a previous Social Democrat-led government, overturned.
Bearbeitet am: 29.05.2009/ad
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