Emsland nuclear power plant should be free of radioactivity by 2037

It’s over on Friday, the Emsland nuclear power plant in Lingen will only run until April 15th. Then RWE will start dismantling. The operator plans 14 years for the first dismantling phase including post-operation. During this time, the fuel elements are taken from the plant to the on-site interim storage facility and parts of the plant are dismantled. According to the nuclear technology industry association KernD, the so-called post-operational phase usually lasts four to five years.

“We assume that the plant will be demonstrably free of any radioactivity in 2037 and can therefore be released from the scope of the Atomic Energy Act,” said an RWE company spokesman in Essen of the German Press Agency. “This is followed by the conventional dismantling of the system.”

The Emsland nuclear power plant went online in 1988. The amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 2011 has scheduled the end for December 31, 2022. Due to the energy crisis, the federal cabinet decided last autumn to extend the operating license for the three remaining systems on the grid until April 15, 2023. In addition to Emsland, this applied to Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2.

Block C of the nuclear power plant in Gundremmingen, Bavaria, has been in operation since March 1984. Unit A operated from 1967 to 1977. Block B, which went online in 1984, was shut down on December 31, 2017, Block C – also commissioned in 1984 – followed at the end of 2021. (Image: kkw-gundremmingen.de)

According to RWE, the costs for the post-operation and dismantling of a nuclear power plant vary between 500 million and one billion euros, depending on the size, age and operating hours of the plants. “The operators of the nuclear power plants bear these costs for dismantling in full. You are legally obliged to set aside sufficient reserves for the dismantling,” explained the RWE spokesman.

At around 90 percent, concrete, glass, scrap or plastic made up the majority of the waste during dismantling. Anything that can be recycled will be recycled. “The rest is disposed of as normal.” Certain components, such as pumps from conventional plant operation, could also be sold if there is demand. However, it is not intended to sell the turbine, since turbines are generally specially designed for a power plant. Radioactive waste would be packaged professionally and become the responsibility of the federal government for disposal.

RWE currently employs around 350 people at the Emsland nuclear power plant. There are also 150 employees from other companies who work permanently at the facility, such as security personnel. “The power plant team is also required for the subsequent dismantling of the plant,” said the spokesman. The workforce will be reduced in the coming years, for example due to retirement. The detailed planning was in progress.


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