Merkel has known for 13 years that nuclear dump is dangerous


German chancellor (prime minister) Angela Merkel was warned 13 years ago that a nuclear waste dump in the north might contaminate drinking water supplies, but she extended its operating period anyway.


This is claimed by Greenpeace Germany, citing a 1996 letter from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) to the federal environment ministry, which Merkel then headed as minister, about the Asse II abandoned salt mine near Braunschweig now taking in 12 cubic metres of brine daily.


BfS research has found that storing nuclear waste in salt deposits poses great security risks. The agency says if Asse II were to fill with water, people in the area would be exposed to 100 times as much radiation as now set by law as the maximum allowed. (For a more technical explanation of Asse II see

Greenpeace demands that the federal parliament hold an inquiry to find out whether these BfS warnings should have led to the government abandoning its plans to store nuclear waste permanently in salt already in 1996.

"Merkel is a key figure in final storage policy and has to be made to testify to a federal parliamentary committee,” wrote Greenpeace nuclear expert, Mathias Edler.

“She knew that it isn’t safe to store nuclear waste in salt. Asse and Morsleben (Ed: another mine dump in north Germany) should have been shut down immediately, work on Gorleben should have been stopped.”

A salt deposit near the north German village Gorleben is intended as the final German waste repository although so far it has been officially declared as being only exploratory. The BfS has said work there went substantially beyond exploration and part of the mine dug specifically for the purpose could already work as a repository.

In the parliament of Lower Saxony, the state where all these three dumps are located, an inquiry has begun into the Asse II case. The government majority, which is of the same conservative CDU party as Merkel, has prevented her being called to testify.

Already in 1996 the BfS warned that “great difficulties” in Asse II could call into question the concept of depositing nuclear waste in salt mines. The Morsleben repository was “no longer tenable”, the BfS wrote and the planned final repository in Gorleben “endangered”.

Despite the warning of the BfS, the then federal environment minister Merkel changed nuclear law in April 1998 to add another five years of operation permission to Morsleben, a dump taken over from former communist East Germany.

Greenpeace litigated in the Magdeburg upper administrative court which ordered dumping stopped on 25 September 1998.

Merkel also drove further expansion of the Gorleben exploration by changing nuclear law.

“Neither the possibilities of garnering information nor the financial means of an inquiry at state level are sufficient to clear up a scandal of these dimensions," says Greenpeace.

“All three dumps are operated by the federal government, so that now the federal parliament has to investigate,” says Mathias Edler.

Nuclear policy looks like becoming one of the hot issues in Germany’s federal election on 27 September.


Zeige Kommentare: ausgeklappt | moderiert

By Ray Wills


The latest issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports renewable energy use exceeds nuclear power production. The review reveals that renewable energy sources accounted for 11.1 % of U.S. domestic energy production and exceeded the share of nuclear power (10.4%).


U.S. renewable energy production comprises hydropower (34.6%), wood + wood wastes (31.2%), biofuels (19.0%), wind (9.3%), geothermal (4.7%), and solar (1.2%). Most of these sources grew compared to the first third of 2008 with wind expanding by 34.5%, biofuels by 14.1%, hydropower by 8.2%, and geothermal by 2.6%. The contribution from solar sources remained essentially unchanged while wood + wood waste declined by 4.9%.

Total U.S. energy consumption fell 5.7% during the first four months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008 - with fossil fuel use accounting for almost the entire decline.

China too is planning more renewable than nuclear, with the Chinese National Energy Administration reporting goals for 2020 for nuclear power of installed capacity of 86 million kw, while the goals for installed capacity of renewable power are: 150 million kw of wind power, 20 million kw of solar power and 30 million kw of biomass power. China has recently revised its original goal of 15 % of the market from renewable energy by 2020 to a new target of 20%.

This follows an earlier report by the UN that revealed the year 2008 was the first year that global investment in new power generation capacity from renewable energy technologies was more than investment in fossil-fuelled technologies.

The UN reported $155 billion was invested in 2008 in clean energy companies and projects worldwide - not including large hydro.

The growth in investment in clean energy was largely due to record investments by China, Brazil and other emerging economies.

Total transaction value in the sustainable energy sector during 2008 – including corporate acquisitions, asset re-financings and private equity buy-outs – was $223 billion.

The Lower Saxony parliament has started its inquiry. If you know German you might like to go to

One of the first bits of testimony heard is that "23 to 25 kilograms of plutonium" was dumped in Asse II between 1967 and 1978, while so far officially 11.8 kilograms were stated.

A television report says Merkel is unlikely to be called before the election on 27 September (if at all!) because the government majority on the inquiry panel insists on proceeding chronologically, which would put Merkel outside of that time frame.

Both the activities of the past and the present, in which radioactive materials are handled in the Arctic generate a high potential risk of accidents, although there has been no large-scale radioactive contamination. For example, accidents such as the collapse of the Soviet nuclear submarine Komsomolets in 1989, the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk in 2000, and the accident in which a U.S. aircraft with nuclear weapons crashed near Thule, Greenland, in 1968, no radioactive substances discharged into the environment. loans

The Soviet Union dumped radioactive waste in a high, medium and low in the Barents and Kara Seas between 1959 and 1991 (see map), which included, among others, six nuclear reactors of submarines and protection of an assembly from the reactor an icebreaker containing spent nuclear fuel (AMAP 1997). Since then, research and data collected have indicated that no significant amounts have migrated from radioactive materials from the landfill and only very local samples show elevated levels of radionuclides. The main risks may be long term as containers corrode.