Interim storage at KTE
KTE operates storage facilities for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. Storage capacities have been expanded several times since the late 1970s. The Schacht Konrad final repository is not yet in operation so waste cannot be transferred there. To allow dismantling work at the site to continue, capacities for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste need to be further extended. Two new buildings are to be erected by 2020, increasing the storage capacity for the radioactive waste that arises during the dismantling work to nearly 100,000 cubic metres.
Expansion of storage capacities
Regular inspection of the barrels
Since 2005, the condition of more than 27,800 waste product barrels has been checked (as per September 2018). This revealed that approx. 11% of the barrels showed signs of corrosion on average. Experience gained during inspection of the barrels shows that the number of waste product barrels with signs of corrosion depends on the conditioning type and period. Barrels with cemented evaporator concentrates show more signs of corrosion (approx. 20 to 25% of the total number) on account of their chemical properties. Cemented concentrates from the period 1992 to 1995 are particularly prone to corrosion. By contrast, only 1 to 3% of the barrels show signs of corrosion in the case of compressed or incinerated mixed waste. Thus the half-yearly barrel inspection readings fluctuate significantly.
Inspections carried out so far have shown:
- No container showed external contamination as a result of corrosion.
- No radioactivity escaped.
- No barrels or containers that show signs of corrosion were or are freely accessible.
It will take some years yet before all of the existing containers, and the barrels they contain, can be fully checked – partly because of the laborious reloading of the containers. Even once this process is complete, the containers will continue to be routinely inspected until they are transferred to the KONRAD final repository.
Planned final storage at Schacht Konrad
The radioactive waste at KTE is being prepared for storage at the Schacht Konrad final repository, which is currently in construction. In order to comply with the conditions for final storage, waste is turned into products suitable for final storage only on the basis of procedural plans approved by Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS). For legacy waste dating back to the time before the final storage conditions for Konrad were laid down, old procedural plans must be revised in some cases and the waste packages concerned subsequently reconditioned accordingly.
Depending on the radiological condition of the waste, packaging of different materials and different thicknesses is used. The key criterion in selecting the right packaging is to ensure that the permissible dose rates are met on the surfaces of the waste packages. All packaging must be approved for storage at Konrad. Waste packages that have already been created may require reinspection and approval of the containers. The process of conditioning and packaging the waste in readiness for final storage is accompanied by extensive product control measures. Final storage documentation requires the radioactive inventory to be stated and the waste substances identified. For legacy waste that has already been conditioned, the radiological declaration has to be updated to reflect today’s standards.
KTE will begin transporting its waste to the Schacht Konrad final repository just as soon as it is ready to accept waste. Over the years, the planned start of this storage process has been postponed several times. Currently, the final repository is not expected to go into operation before 2027. It will then take roughly 30 to 40 years for all of the waste at KTE to be transported there.
Up-to-date information about the Konrad final repository can be found on the BGE's website.