The government in London relies on nuclear power to achieve its climate goals. Ahead of the 2024 elections, a new nuclear power plant is set to be funded as part of their climate strategy, The Telegraph reports. “We are trying to get approval for at least another major nuclear project over the next few years to enhance energy security and create thousands of jobs,” a government spokesman told Reuters.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper wrote that Sizewell C in Suffolk, south-east England, is the site of another nuclear power plant. By 2035, the UK aims to reduce carbon emissions to zero.
The nuclear depot in Germany will not be operational until 2050
Highly radioactive waste from German nuclear power plants is likely to remain on nuclear power plant sites for more than half a century due to the lack of a repository. This is assumed by engineer and nuclear expert Michael Seiler, who chaired the Federal Waste Management Committee until 2019. It also means that the approved service life of the sixteen temporary storage facilities in Germany will be greatly exceeded.
Sailer assumes that the storage of nuclear waste at the planned repository can only be completed around 2080. After the previously planned repository in Gorleben, Lower Saxony, ended, the federal government committed by law to selecting a new site by 2031. Augsburg “Then comes the approval and construction process.” “That would take an estimated 20 years, and then we have 2050.” The repository can then go into a beta process.
“We have 16 temporary storage facilities in Germany where highly radioactive waste is stored,” said Seiler. “For most of them, the approval period ends at 2045/46” – it can also be read on the operator’s website, Gesellschaft für Zwischenlagerung (BGZ). At a reasonable estimate, it may take about 30 years to bring all the drums from temporary storage facilities to the warehouse. “This means that storage in the warehouse will last from 2050 to 2080,” said Sailer, who until 2019 also headed the Freiburg Öko Institute.
Basic calculation: “We will have a total of about 1,800 to 1,900 wheels in 16 temporary storage facilities that must be brought into the warehouse,” the engineer said. There, spent fuel items and vitrified waste must be transported to final storage containers in a protected facility.
According to the Site Selection Act (StandAG), the repository must be so safe that people and the environment will be protected from radiation for a million years. “In an estimate, I would assume that only a third of the waste in an intermediate storage container can be placed in a final storage container,” said Seller. So it could be around 6000 final storage containers.
Realistically, one has to assume “that only one container per day can be stored in the warehouse, and everything has to be checked two and three times,” says Sayler.
However, temporary storage facilities for nuclear power plants are only approved for a 40-year operating period. “We don’t have empirical values beyond these 40, and there’s really no way to calculate in advance.” According to the engineer, this is a problem. “One of the weaknesses is the sealing system between the container body and the lid.”
“The second problem is monitoring the sealing systems,” said Seiler. “It’s a very complex micro-mechanical system that measures the pressure difference with very small components.” You have to ask yourself two things: “How long does it take? And if I have to replace the parts, are there any manufacturers who can do that? This is a technology that is no longer needed today otherwise.”
Seller called on politicians to deal with the extension of the buffering at an early stage. “It would be fatal if research and considerations regarding caching did not begin until 2040.” According to Seiler, it will take years before there are reasonably reliable results. “In my view, it would also be good to start the approval procedures for extending the operational life ten years in advance.” (APA, DPA, Reuters)
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