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German nuclear firms not ready to pay for new waste site search via Platts

Germany’s nuclear power operators are not ready to bear the estimated Eur2 billion ($2.6 billion) cost for identifying and building a new nuclear waste depository, the German Atomic Forum said Tuesday after the federal government reached a compromise with states and opposition parties to re-open the search for such a site.

According to a statement, the nuclear operators will honor the agreement to pay for the cost of a nuclear waste depository. Accordingly, some Eur1.6 billion was already spent in the development of the underground storage site at Gorleben, it said.

There is, however, no legal basis for the nuclear operators to bear the extra cost of the search for an alternative solution before a final judgment about the suitability of the Gorleben site has been made, the nuclear lobby group said.

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Nuclear waste storage has been a controversial issue in Germany over the last 20 years. Exploration at the Gorleben site started in 1979 with the aim of setting up a permanent underground storage site.

However, the suitability of the former salt mine as a nuclear waste depository has been questioned and work at Gorleben was halted after a coalition between Social Democrats and Greens brought in the first nuclear exit bill in 2002 until 2010, when the current government under Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to extent the running times of Germany’s nuclear reactors.

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