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IAEA Safety Mission Highlights Germany Has Addressed Recommendations of Prior Review, Encourages Continued Improvements

Berlin, Germany

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said Germany implemented all six recommendations and all but two out of 25 suggestions made during a 2019 evaluation of the country’s regulatory framework for nuclear and radiological safety. The team encouraged Germany to continue efforts to address the remaining matters for continuous improvement.

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) follow-up team yesterday concluded a mission to Germany, conducted at the request of the country’s Federal Government.

Using IAEA safety standards and international good practices, IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety while recognizing the responsibility of each country.

The seven-day mission – that was conducted from 10 to 16 October – reviewed Germany’s governmental, legal and regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety against IAEA safety standards and the recommendations and suggestions from the initial IRRS mission in April 2019. The scope of both missions covered all of Germany’s facilities and activities, with the exception of transport, radiation sources, and public and medical exposure.

Germany decided in 2011 to phase out its nuclear power programme and in April this year shut down the last three of the 36 reactors it has operated since 1961. 

Twenty-eight reactors are undergoing decommissioning, five are in different stages of receiving a licence for decommissioning, and three have been fully dismantled. The focus of the German nuclear power programme is shifting to the safe decommissioning of the nuclear power plants, the safe operation of the different waste storage facilities and the site selection procedure for a deep geological disposal facility. Germany operates six research reactors for research and medical isotope production.

The mission’s ten-member team comprised seven senior regulatory experts from six IAEA Member States and three IAEA staff members. They met with representatives of the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE), and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

The team also met with representatives of State ( Länder) administrations: The Ministry of Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Wuerttemberg (UM BW), the Ministry for Energy Transition, Climate Protection, Environment and Nature of the State of Schleswig-Holstein (MEKUN), the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection (StMUV) and the Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of the State of Hesse (HMUKLV), the Ministry for Climate Protection, Agriculture, Rural Areas and the Environment of the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (LM MV); the Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Climate Protection of the State of Lower Saxony (MU); the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIKE).

The IRRS team concluded that Germany has been responsive to the recommendations and suggestions made in 2019 and continues to place appropriate focus on implementing a framework that provides effective nuclear and radiation safety for workers, the public and the environment within the areas covered by IRRS mission.

“The team greatly appreciates the hard work of the regulatory authorities of Germany to further strengthen the regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety,” said Daniel Dorman, Team Leader and Executive Director for Operations, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “Germany’s accomplishments and ongoing further efforts will serve Germany well in its effective regulatory oversight of decommissioning and radioactive waste management.”

The IRRS team noted that Germany has shown a strong commitment to nuclear and radiation safety in the areas covered by the mission. Progress made since 2019 includes:

  • Establishing a national strategy for competence building and the development of future talent for nuclear safety.
  • Strengthening emergency preparedness and response with the adoption of a federal general emergency response plan and full functioning of the new Federal Radiological Situation Centre.
  • Enhancing conformity of the regulatory framework with the IAEA safety standards.

The IRRS team concluded that all six recommendations and 23 out of 25 suggestions identified in the 2019 mission have been closed. Recommendations are related to items of direct relevance to safety as referenced in IAEA Safety Requirements; suggestions relate to items that, while not essential to ensure compatibility with IAEA Safety Requirements, may enhance the effectiveness of the national nuclear and radiation safety regime.

Germany is encouraged to continue its efforts to:

  • Complete the integrated management system in some Länder (German federal states) authorities.
  • Revise the safety requirements and guidance documents for the development, operation and closure of disposal facilities for radioactive waste.

“I am very pleased that the recent IRRS follow-up mission has confirmed that the German nuclear supervision meets international requirements. We thank the IAEA and the distinguished IRRS team members for valuable discussions and suggestions supporting our continuous improvement. I am convinced that international exchange between supervisory authorities is crucial for enhancing nuclear safety around the world. That is why Germany, irrespective of its nuclear phase-out, will continue to play an active role in the development and improvement of nuclear safety at the international level,” said Gerrit Niehaus, Director General on Nuclear Safety and Radiological Protection at BMUV.

The IAEA will provide the final mission report to the Government in about three months. The Government plans to make the report public.

IAEA Safety Standards

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements, and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.



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