1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Nuclear dump

March 14, 2010

After a 10-year moratorium, exploration into the future of the Gorleben nuclear waste dump is to resume. The Green party and environmental leaders are protesting the decision.

A nuclear waste container
Gorleben has been a temporary nuclear dump for 30 yearsImage: picture alliance/dpa

Environmentalists and member of the Green party responded with sharp criticism to reports that the German Environment Ministry would reopen talks on the future of the Gorleben nuclear waste dump.

Greenpeace activists projected the phrase "Gorleben: unsuitable for nuclear waste, Mr. Roettgen" onto a tower at the disused salt mine in the early hours of Sunday.

Green party leaders sharply criticized the decision to resume talks to make the Gorleben salt mines a permanent nuclear waste dump.

A sticker of the anti-nuclear movement on a Gorleben sign
The town of Gorleben has about 600 residentsImage: AP

A ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the report and said Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen would be holding a press conference on the topic of Gorleben on Monday.

Discussions regarding using the underground salt mines in Gorleben in Lower Saxony have been on hold since 2000.

According to a report in Der Spiegel newsmagazine, exploration of the salt dome could take eight to 10 years.

During the exploration, the mining legislation would apply rather than nuclear legislation, which requires broader civic participation in the decision-making process, the magazine wrote.

Sharp criticism

The Green party expressed outrage over the decision and accused the environment minister of having the interests of the nuclear industry closer to his heart than people's health and safety.

"He's following in the tradition of the previous administration, attempting to fool the people of Gorleben with tricks and targeted manipulation," said Green party parliamentary leader Renate Kuenast.

"We will use all our powers to block this cowardly decision," said European Parliament Green leader Rebecca Harms, a native of the Gorleben region.

Hot topic

Storage of nuclear waste is a controversial topic in Germany, where there is no definitive agreement on what constitutes a suitable disposal site. Convoys transporting waste to interim storage sites are regularly the targets of protesters.

Protestors on tractors in Gorleben
Activists have protested against the nuclear waste dump for yearsImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Gorleben has been used as temporary repository for nuclear waste since 1983.

The site became even more controversial after it was revealed that the German government under Chancellor Helmut Kohl had suppressed scientific evidence against using the underground salt cavern for permanent nuclear waste storage.

Nuclear plant closure

Germany covers about a quarter of its energy consumption with nuclear power.

A phase-out of nuclear power has been planned for 2021, and eight of the country's 17 reactors are currently due to cease output in 2018. Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right government has said it wants to extend the lives of national nuclear plants, but rifts inside her cabinet over the merit of rival renewable energies have delayed steps to prevent the closure.

Editor: Ben Knight

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Two women speak to a crowd holding EU and Moldovan flags
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage