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Nuclear clean-up costs via Clean Energy Wire

How much will it cost and who pays?

The costs of the nuclear phase-out are commonly divided into expenses for decommissioning, i.e. dismantling the nuclear power plants (NPP); and waste disposal, i.e. the temporary and permanent storage of radioactive material. Storage costs include the search for a final repository, the building, operating and loading of the facility, the transport of the nuclear waste and finally the sealing of the repository.

The state will have to pay the decommissioning and storage costs for publicly owned research reactors and for two nuclear power stations in the former GDR (East Germany), since these plants did not find private owners after Germany’s reunification. The environment ministry estimates a bill of around 6 billion euros for these decommissioning works (excluding the costs for finding, building and operating a final repository) but says the figure is “afflicted with great uncertainties”.

The state will also pay around 5 billion euros to retrieve and re-store the unsafely-stored waste from the facility at Asse, and a further 2.4 billion euros to operate and seal the facility in Morsleben (See Factsheet on nuclear waste storage here). The construction, operation and sealing of a final repository for low and medium-level waste at Schacht Konrad will cost around 7.5 billion euros, according to the ministry.

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In its August 2015 report on costs and financing of nuclear waste storage, the environment ministry says the utilities that own and operate the commercial power stations in Germany put the total cost of decommissioning at 34 billion euros. But utilities are likely to have to foot a much larger bill as the figure does not include any cost increases or the expense for finding and operating a final, permanent repository.

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