German Nuclear Industry Faces Slew Of New Problems

An unpublished report from experts in Germany has identified unaccounted for earthquake risk in two German nuclear reactors. Germany is in the process of phasing out their nuclear power plants, some remain online today.

Two reactors in Bavaria planned to do power uprates but abruptly cancelled them. An unpublished report around the same time by GRS for the environment ministry found additional earthquake risks at the two nuclear plants. Now there are questions that the internal reports may have been the reason the operators cancelled the power uprates. Only two of the three reactor cooling systems were capable of operating during a moderate quake. This deficiency was confirmed with the environment ministry. There is now consideration about possibly pulling the license for these plants.


Evacuation Zones

The German government has moved to improve evacuation zones near nuclear reactors. The new rules would drastically change who is in an evacuation zone and how quickly they must be moved if there is a failure at the plant:

1st zone (evacuation within 6 hours): 5km instead of 2 km
2nd zone (evacuation within 24 hours) 20km instead of 10 km
3rd zone (iodine distribution) 100km instead of 50 km

These larger evacuation and distribution zones would now include large cities like Hamburg and Munich. Japan’s new nuclear regulator had been considering larger evacuation zones there. Meanwhile the US has made evacuation zones smaller, calling for only part of a 10 mile zone to be evacuated in a nuclear disaster. More on the NRC’s partial evacuation plan here.


brunsbarrelNuclear Waste Problems

Degrades stashes of nuclear waste were found in a basement caverns below the Brunsbuttel nuclear plant. The plant operated from 1974 until 2007 and has been in the process of decommissioning since 2012.

631 rusting barrels in 6 rooms are known to be stored there. Cameras sent to inspect found rusting barrels of nuclear waste.

The first barrels were discovered two years ago. About 70 barrels have been examined and found to be corroded. The barrels held low level and intermediate level nuclear waste. The task now is to come up with a safer way to encase the barrels, removing them could prove impossible.


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