The Repository Site Selection Act entered into force on 27 July 2013. The aim of the open-ended site selection procedure under this Act is to conduct a science-based, transparent procedure without any advance stipulations (starting from a “blank map”) to find a site for a final repository, in particular for highly radioactive waste, which offers the best possible safety and security for a period of a million years.

Before this happens, the Commission on the Storage of High-Level Radioactive Waste (in german) is to clarify questions of waste management and draw up the principles for a science-based site selection process. This includes recommendations for criteria for the exclusion of sites, minimum requirements, criteria to be weighed up, and criteria for possible error corrections, as well as requirements regarding the organisation, the selection process, the examination of alternatives, public participation and procedural transparency. Its recommendations are to be presented to the Bundestag, the Bundesrat and the Federal Government by mid-2016. Following this, the Bundestag is to enact legislation on the basis of which potential sites are identified and then investigated, both above and below ground. The Commission on the Storage of High-Level Radioactive Waste consists of 32 members (scientists, representatives of the trade unions, industry, the churches, civil initiatives, the Bundestag and the Länder governments), and two co-chairs.

The OECD/NEA and the IAEA have confirmed that, according to current knowledge, the final storage of highly radioactive, heat-generating waste can already take place safely in deep geological formations.

Studies of the various host rock formations (rock salt, clay or crystalline rock) have been carried out by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources as part of its research work. The reports can be downloaded (in German) from the Federal Institute’s website.

In Germany, Schacht Konrad has been officially approved as a final repository for low and intermediate level radioactive waste. The work on developing the former mine into a final repository commenced at the end of 2007. The Schacht Konrad final repository is expected to be used from 2022.

The ownership of the former final repository for low and intermediate level waste from the GDR in Morsleben transferred to the Federation when Germany reunified. The placement of radioactive waste in storage there ceased in 1998. Stabilisation measures have been carried out since 2003. The final repository is to be closed down and securely sealed for the long term.