An old mine, described as the most problematic nuclear storage dump in Europe, has forced the German government to act over radioactive leaks.
Nuclear material has been stored underground at Asse 2 in Lower Saxony for years; it now holds about 130,000 barrels of low- and mid-level waste. But reports say highly-dangerous plutonium is also stored there, and radioactivity levels are eight times above normal.
German Research Minister Annette Schavan said: “Until now the research centre came under mining safety laws, but now the Federal Nuclear Agency will take control.”
Germany is the most anti-nuclear nation in Europe, but rising energy prices may change that. Nuclear power, with its promises of clean, cheap electricity, looks more and more enticing. Conservatives say nuclear power is safe, while environmentalists say the waste never goes away, and threatens to poison the land. Asse 2 was supposed to be safe, but the rusting waste barrels are a major problem. Worse, the mine itself is slowly flooding, and some fear it may collapse altogether.