The search for a safe long-term disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste is a cross-generational social and political task with a geoscientific core. To this end, Germany has launched a participatory process that is unique in the world. The first challenge is to narrow down suitable areas, starting with the whole of the Federal Republic. The second is to use geoscientific knowledge, methods and data to examine in detail the suitability of the subsurface in the remaining few percent of the country's area.
In 2031, the Bundestag is to decide on a final repository site for highly radioactive waste. Politicians have designed a procedure that creates the greatest possible transparency, that involves citizens in an appropriate manner and that is intended to be self-questioning and ascertaining on the way to a science-led decision.
The newly published focus issue of the GFZ journal "System Erde" shows the important contributions of the geosciences to this procedure. The texts in this issue reflect the current state of our knowledge on topics that are part of the search for a suitable site. The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is a leader in some of these topics. We, therefore, see ourselves as having a dual responsibility: we do research on these topics and we offer dialogue. Science and researchers must be an active part of the social process, also as members of one of the societies that helped create the nuclear waste problem.
The texts will remain available online at systemerde.gfz-potsdam.de and are also to be understood as an invitation to debate.
Dipl.-Geogr. Josef Zens
Head Public Relations
Tel.: +49 331 288-1040