Demolition waste is being decontaminated for recycling

© EnBW Kernkraft GmbH
The Philippsburg residual material processing center received commissioning approval back in December 2020.

The approval of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment for the commissioning of the new residual material processing center (RMPC) on the site of the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant marks a further milestone in the dismantling of the Baden-Württemberg’s nuclear power plants. Regional utility EnBW can now start processing demolition waste from Neckarwestheim Block I, and expand processing to material from Block II as soon as its demolition begins. The almost identical RMPC in Philippsburg received approval for operation back in December. The highly complex planning, construction and approval process took six years, during which time EnBW Kernkraft GmbH (EnKK) received comprehensive support from Stuttgart-based planning and consulting company Drees & Sommer.

The aim of waste processing is to reduce the volume of radioactive waste to a minimum. “This is an important step in the overall process of efficient and resource-saving decommissioning. Although only a small proportion the demolition waste is sent for processing, it is still in the order of tens of thousands of tonnes. We consolidate the processing in our new centers, thereby decoupling it from dismantling work in the blocks,” explains Jörg Michels, head of the EnBW nuclear power division. For Michels, the residual material processing centers are “an essential element of the decommissioning strategy. The approval means that the entire infrastructure for the dismantling of our nuclear power plants is now available.”

Low- or medium-level radioactive waste remains after processing. Processing also increases the proportion of recyclable materials that can be returned to the material life cycle. But until commissioning of the Konrad mine – which the federal government has earmarked for used as the final depository for low- and medium-level waste – the residual material requires safe intermediate storage. EnBW had established an on-site waste storage facility in the immediate vicinity of the each of the RMPCs in Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg for this purpose. These were commissioned in 2020 and handed over to the federal Company for Interim Storage (BGZ) – as stipulated in the Waste Management Transfer Act. 

You can find more information in our press release.