As an essential part of the German waste management strategy, radioactive waste is stored safely - to protect man and the environment from radiation and its dispersion - until it is delivered to a repository. In Germany, radioactive waste is divided into two categories for the planned disposal in deep geological layers:
- radioactive waste with negligible heat generation (e.g. operational and dismantling waste from nuclear installations and waste from applications in medicine, research and industry) intended for emplacement in the Konrad repository
- heat-generating waste (e.g. spent fuel assemblies from research and power reactors and radioactive waste that has to be taken back from reprocessing)
Waste with negligible heat generation is processed, conditioned, packed into waste packages for disposal, and placed in storage. Spent fuel assemblies and vitrified high-level radioactive waste are placed in transport and storage casks and put in dry storage.
Tasks of GRS
In the field of storage, GRS deals with the following tasks:
- advising and supporting the Federal Environment Ministry on scientific and technical issues
- on the treatment, conditioning, and storage of radioactive waste with negligible heat generation
- on the storage of heat-generating waste
- determining the safety-relevant verification requirements for extended storage (including long-term behaviour of components and inventories, GAP analysis, ageing, non-destructive testing methods)
- basic research on material behaviour and further development of the state of the art in science and technology
- surveying, reviewing assessing in detail the quantity of spent fuel assemblies in German nuclear power plants or storage facilities and waste to be taken back from reprocessing
- performing inventory and shielding calculations relating to the storage of radioactive waste for determining the dose rates of waste packages
- collaborating on national and international committees.
GRS participates in international research programmes on ageing management and fuel assembly behaviour and has also initiated an international workshop on the Safety of Extended Dry Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel (SEDS). This annually workshop addresses the technical aspects of extended storage and brings scientists, experts, representatives of the authorities and operators in a technical exchange.