The protection of humans and the environment is of primary importance during the dismantling of nuclear plants. This short film shows how a nuclear plant is dismantled:
Shut down nuclear power plants may not be left to their own devices. They are still subject to nuclear law and thus require the supervision of federal and regional authorities. Separate permission is therefore required for the decommissioning and dismantling of all plants. Special challenges are presented by the dismantling of heavily contaminated and/or activated parts with a high dose rate and the safe management of the resulting radioactive waste.
The shutting down of nuclear plants and laboratories and prototype facilities used for nuclear research and thus also their dismantling is a demanding task. It requires specialist knowledge in many fields. In Germany, a number of smaller reactors have already been shut down and completely dismantled, for example in Niederaichbach, Grosswelzheim and Kahl. Commercial reactors are also being dismantled or projects have already been completed, such as the dismantling of Würgassen Nuclear Power Plant.
The EWN Group’s experts have gained extensive experience with dismantling nuclear facilities through the successful dismantling of a number of plants of various kinds.
Nuclear facilities like research and power reactors consist of plant components such as pumps and pipes and concrete structures. These can generally be recycled conventionally– for example as scrap or demolished concrete in road construction. On average, around three quarters of the accumulated materials can be recycled without harm, monitored by the supervisory authorities. The remainder is radioactive waste and has to be decontaminated. There are several options available for this in the plants.
Radioactive waste materials which accumulate during dismantling projects are first decontaminated as far as possible. Further information is available at:
Radioactive waste is stored temporarily at the Interim Storage Facility North until it can be handed over to a federal final store. Further information is available at:
Interim Storage Facility North
Although safety and waste management aspects generally favour direct dismantling, a plant can also be dismantled after several decades of safe enclosure (also known as nuclear entombment). The aim of this approach is to reduce radioactivity in the facility through the natural process of decay over the years. This makes the actual dismantling easier. There are, however, special requirements for safe enclosure:
Research Reactor 2 is currently safely enclosed on the site of the former research centre in Karlsruhe. It was transferred to this state in 1996 and is to be completely dismantled as from the mid 2020s.
Generally, nuclear facilities and reactors in Germany are directly dismantled. There are a number of advantages to this: