Gorleben interim storage facility

The Gorleben interim storage facility operated by BGZ is around two kilometres south of the Municipality of Gorleben. The transport cask storage facility (TBL-G), the waste storage facility (ALG) and the pilot conditioning plant (PKA) are all located on site.

Brennelementlager Gorleben GmbH
Lüchower Straße 8
29475 Gorleben / Germany

Phone 05882 10-0
Fax 05882 10-130
Email info@bgz.de

The Gorleben transport cask storage facility (TBL-G)

Five spent fuel elements from nuclear power plants have been in interim storage here since 1995. The TBL-G also has a storage license for vitrified high-level radioactive waste which covers German fuel elements which must be returned from reprocessing in France and the United Kingdom. The first HAW vitrified glass canisters from the reprocessing of German fuel elements in France were transported to the TBL-G in 1996. The last of twelve shipments of 108 casks from France, each with 28 vitrified glass canisters, was made in 2011. 21 casks with high-level radioactive waste from Sellafield and five casks with intermediate-level waste from La Hague were also originally going to be taken to Gorleben; these must now be returned by law to the nuclear power plant interim storage facilities.

The high-level radioactive waste stored in TBL-G continues to generate heat and must therefore cool down over a period of decades before it can be transferred to a repository. The radiation from this waste requires special protective measures. The waste is therefore transported and placed in interim storage in secure CASTOR type casks designed specifically for this purpose. These casks are designed to meet all the necessary protection functions. They prevent radioactive substances escaping into the environment and reduce emissions of the original gamma and neutron radiation to an absolute minimum. Extensive tests have demonstrated that CASTOR casks retain their contents in a securely encapsulated state even in the event of serious accidents. The casks are also continuously monitored for leak tightness during the entire interim storage period. The transport container storage hall is designed to distribute the heat from the containers by means of natural air convection.

The TBL-G covers an area of approximately 5,000 m² and has 420 spaces for transport and storage casks with a licensed total capacity of 3,800 Mg of heavy metal. 113 spaces are currently occupied.

Safety and environmental protection

Strictly defined and extensive measurements have been continually made at the site of the interim storage facility since 1983. As well as the dose rate (“radiation”) permanently monitored around the interim storage site, air samples, precipitation, soil, groundwater and vegetation are also regularly examined for radioactive substances. Evaluations of samples from the surrounding area have not revealed any radioactivity originating from the operation of the interim storage facility. The findings demonstrate that the casks have not produced any activated dust particles of a measurable magnitude. The only findings have been for nuclides originating from the reactor accident in Chernobyl, from above-ground nuclear weapons testing or from natural radioactive substances.

Annual environmental monitoring reports can be downloaded here or obtained in the interim storage facility’s information house.

Gorleben waste storage facility (ALG)

Packaged low-level and intermediate-level waste has been in interim storage in the ALG since 1984; most of this waste originates from the operation of German nuclear power plants, from research institutions and industry. The six storage aisles in the 4,500 m² hall have a capacity of 15,000 m3. The waste storage facilities are licensed for the interim storage of casks and cylindrical containers made of steel, concrete or cast iron.

Comprehensive procedures are in place for the movement of waste with negligible heat generation from its place of origin through the various treatment stages to interim storage in the ALG. The waste is stored under the supervision of independent experts commissioned by the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment. These experts verify in advance that only substances which are licensed for interim storage are shipped to the ALG.

Removal of drums from storage aisle A

All 1,309 drums from storage aisle A are destined to be removed to be conditioned for disposal in a repository. All these drums have already been inspected as part of this routine removal procedure. The corrosion or handling impact findings for a total of 26 drums determined under the supervision of an expert commissioned by the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment have not revealed any safety relevant issues. The expert confirmed in all cases that drum surfaces were not contaminated and that drum integrity was not compromised in any way.

Pilot conditioning plant (PKA)

The PKA tests procedures for the treatment of fuel elements and “conditioning” for disposal in a repository. The PKA is planned as a multi-purpose plant which will also be able to carry out other work, such as maintenance and inspections of all types of transport and storage containers.

The search for a repository, which has been relaunched under the Site Selection Act, means that conditioning will no longer take place in the PKA itself. The PKA currently only remains in standby operation for container maintenance, if this should be necessary.

Find out more at the site

You are welcome to visit us to find out more. We also invite you to come and form your own opinion about the safe and license-compliant interim storage of waste with negligible heat generation in our ALG. In order to comply with the official rules and regulations on visits to our sites we request that you arrange your visit in good time and submit completed lists of visitors and valid identity cards for your visit. Information about our work is available at our facility itself and from the models, display boards and short films in our information house in Gorleben.