Gorleben - Around year before the planned clearance of the Gorleben waste storage facility, an inspection revealed that 26 of the 1,309 barrels containing radioactive waste were rusted or damaged. This emerges from request from the Lower Saxony Environment Ministry, Miriam Staudte (Greens).
The barrels were examined between March 2016 and February 2017. 17 of the offending containers were corroded, the others deformities or chipped paint were found. Two of the barrels were opened in 2017 to get to the bottom of the cause. It was found that during the conditioning, in which radioactive substances are brought into chemically stable state before packaging, residual moisture was still left. This led to the bottom of the barrel starting to rust.
The expert commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment had not found any contamination of the container surface in any of the damaged barrels , said spokesman for the operator. All barrels were packed in sheet steel containers. Some have already been removed, others are still pending.
The barrels not only contain waste from nuclear power plants, but also, for example, low-level radioactive material from research and industry. They were stored in Gorleben in 1999 for period of 20 years and, according to the contract, have to be removed by June 2019. According to the Ministry of the Environment, 725 containers had been removed from storage by the end of March. The remaining barrels are to be brought to the Ahaus transport container storage facility.