Court Revokes Permit for Nuclear Interim Storage Site Brunsbüttel – Impact on Nuclear Location Search Act Bill Unclear

The Higher Administrative Court of Schleswig (OVG Schleswig) has revoked the permit for the nuclear interim storage site in Brunsbüttel, Schleswig-Holstein. It argued the permitting authority had not properly established and evaluated the facts. While the ruling can still be appealed, the news sparked a media discussion on whether and how it might affect the search for a national consensus on a Nuclear Location Search Act for a permanent nuclear waste disposal site.

The permit was granted in November 2003 and declared immediately enforceable. According to OVG Schleswig, the authorisation permits the storage of spent fuel elements from the Brunsbüttel  nuclear power plant up to a maximum of 80 castor storage containers of the V/52 type, as interim storage for a duration of 40 years starting with the storage of the first container.

Plaintiff had mainly asserted that the risks of terrorist attacks against the storage site, in particular by plane crashes of Airbus 380 planes or the use of anti-tank weapons, had not been duly considered. The court agreed, although it said it did not have access to a large number of documents relating to the permitting procedure as they were declared confidential by the permitting authority. This had been largely declared in compliance with the relevant laws by the Federal Administrative Court, OVG Schleswig said. In its decision the Court in Schleswig did not decide whether the lack of investigation concerning a terrorist attack with an A 380 had been remedied by an investigation made in 2010, as had doubts regarding the investigation method.

OVG Schleswig granted leave to appeal to the Federal Administrative Court.

Whether the still non-binding ruling will affect the efforts to pass a bill on a Nuclear Location Search Act, which the government wants to pass before the summer recess, remains unclear. The government and the federal states agreed on key points for a search for a permanent nuclear waste disposal site in April. This included the agreement that no more spent fuel will be stored in the interim storage site of Gorleben, and German spent fuel currently stored abroad will be stored elsewhere upon its return. The state of Schleswig-Holstein had signaled its general willingness to make Brunsbüttel an interim storage site on condition that other states provided sites, too (so far only Baden-Württemberg did). Whether this remains a likely option depends on the outcome of this case. Besides, a storage of the nuclear fuel that is presently housed abroad would require an extended permit given the above cited scope of the permit for Brunsbüttel.

Source: OVG Schleswig; Tagesschau

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