Berlin – A look at Bavaria shows how fragile the consensus on the search for a nuclear waste repository is. Just a few days ago, Free State Environment Minister Thorsten Glauber (Free Voters) questioned the process. “This process will cause unrest in Germany for decades and will cost billions,” he said. With Gorleben, it is a well-researched place for safe and almost turnkey storage. “You only downloaded the key for political reasons.” So Gorleben, a place that has been experiencing widespread resistance for several decades.
The timing of the statement was complicated. When the Federal Association for Final Storage (BGE) submits the first Monday this Monday, the regions that are suitable for storage will be renamed for the first time. Suitable geological formations are salt, clay and granite.
Since the politicians resumed their search, the so-called “white map” has also been in place – no location in Germany is ruled out.
If the UBI initially excludes unsuitable areas, dozens more regions are likely to be considered, perhaps less than 100. A number of Länder will be affected – if they leave, the search risks failing.
As Bavaria views the first interim report, it has long been a concern in politics. Finally, the CSU and Free Voters wrote in a 2018 coalition agreement: “When it comes to protecting our country, we have been thinking about it for generations. We are convinced that Bavaria is not a suitable place for a nuclear repository. “
The criticism was huge. And now there is also an immediate contradiction with the words from Bavaria. The ministers of the environment in Lower Saxony, Olaf Lies (SPD) and Schleswig-Holstein, warned against following the procedure of Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens), who both envisage a potential location in their federal states.
When asked about his public location, Glauber said a little later: “Safety comes first. For political reasons, no compromises should be made here. Security means that the rock itself offers the necessary safety for one million years. “
However, it also ferments elsewhere. In any case, civic initiatives and associations such as “Ausgestraht” are extremely critical of the process. The German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) has only warned of a search failure and called for greater transparency.
Critical scientists and environmental associations are not sufficiently involved, public participation is neglected. “Being concerned will lead to the politicization of the regions and resistance.” If further progress does not allow for an equal, objective and balanced debate, then there is a risk that the next process will be dismantled, “said BUND chairman Olaf Bandt last Wednesday.
BUND was always against Gorleben, who remained in the lead. The Greens see it differently, although they focus mainly on deviants such as Bavaria. Because it is behind this process: The principle of the “white map” enabled the search process, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann from Baden-Württemberg said at a press conference last Wednesday. He agreed, although his party strictly rejected Gorleben as a seat.
Kretschmann’s position is not easy in a country that elects a new state parliament in March 2021. If Baden-Württemberg also had possible regions for location, this approach could still be subject to a stress test. When asked about his colleague Söder, he replied that a conversation for two might not be a bad idea.
Robert Habeck, head of the Greens, also attended the press conference: “If in the end the safest place is in Schleswig-Holstein, then it is in Schleswig-Holstein,” said the former Minister of the Environment. He criticized Bavaria for “theft of responsibility”. This is a hard-to-achieve degree of “national irresponsibility” – an impression that Markus Söder (CSU) is currently finding difficult. At present, the Bavarian Prime Minister cannot afford to start searching for a repository. The procedure was decided by consensus of all 16 federal states.
If he wants to become the Union’s candidate for chancellor, which is not yet foreseeable, he will not be able to support the free state by going alone.
One shortcoming of the report could be its public database. It is not possible to publish all the data that lead to decisions. The Geological Data Act, which regulates their publication, has only been in force for a few months and most of the data have not yet been categorized.
Another reason: Despite the entry into force of the law, younger and high-quality data of private owners will be protected. This includes, for example, complex 3-D subsurface models created by mining companies. They can be published only with the consent of the owner. Data that cannot be published is likely to be blacked out in the report – a lack of transparency and a gateway for deviants.
The opposition in the Bundestag is already preparing for Bavaria to oppose the outcome of the interim report, regardless of scientific progress. “Bavaria has signed the site selection law like all other states and has committed itself to this open search for the final repository,” said Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, a member of the Green Party Tagesspiegel. “As a major producer of nuclear energy, Bavaria must not escape responsibility,” said the chairman of the Environment Committee in the Bundestag.