The legal framework for the peaceful use of nuclear energy in Germany is based on the Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz - AtG), which initially entered into force in 1960.
With the amendments which took effect on 22 April 2002, however, essential elements of the German nuclear energy law have been reformulated. Now, the purpose of the Act is to regulate the orderly procedure for ending the use of nuclear energy for commercial generation of electricity. The existing nuclear power plants are to be operated at a high level of safety for their remaining service lives.
According to the German Constitution (Grundgesetz – GG), the Länder are responsible for the implementation of the Atomic Energy Act. To ensure a uniform implementation of the Atomic Energy Act, the Länder are subject to federal supervision. The provisions of the Atomic Energy Act are supplemented or specified by further laws and ordinances.
Legal basis of the peaceful use of nuclear energy
National laws and ordinances are supplemented by multilateral conventions on nuclear safety, on radiation protection and on third party liability, as well as by the EURATOM Treaty and EU legislation.
Below the level of laws and ordinances, the requirements are further specified by the nuclear non-mandatory guidance instruments. These include general administrative provisions and safety criteria of the BMU, BMU guidelines, incident guidelines, guidelines and recommendations of the Reactor Safety Commission (RSK) and the Commission on Radiological Protection (SSK), safety standards of the Nuclear Safety Standards Commission (KTA), nuclear engineering standards, technical rules and technical specifications for components and systems.
The task: updating of the nuclear rules and regulations
The nuclear rules and regulations in the scope of the "Safety Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants", the "RSK Guidelines for Pressurized Water Reactors" and the "Incident Guidelines" date back to the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Therefore, in September 2003, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) launched a comprehensive programme for the revision of the nuclear rules and regulations. The nuclear rules and regulations modernised on this basis comply with the current recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) in the field of requirements for ensuring nuclear safety.
The results of the work are documented in the portal dedicated to the updating of the nuclear non-mandatory guidance instruments under http://regelwerk.grs.de/. The modernised rules and regulations are structured as modules and have been developed in a comprehensive and transparent process. Among others, around 8,500 comments of all parties involved in the utilisation of nuclear energy were received and considered in the process.
Under the title "Safety Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants", the nuclear rules and regulations are available on the Internet as Review D (download as PDF file). The "Safety Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants" are used as nuclear reference standards in licensing procedures, inspections initiated by the supervisory authorities and safety reviews pursuant to § 19 a of the Atomic Energy Act.
Updating of the international nuclear rules and regulations
Via the portal, anyone interested can now submit proposals for amendments to the IAEA safety standards. GRS collects and reviews these comments and, after consultation with the authors and the BMU, forwards them to the IAEA. Every single published revision and the comments of the member states can be found in the portal. Furthermore, forms are available that are needed to communicate modification requests to the IAEA.