Luther advises BGE on the retrieval of radioactive waste from the Asse II shaft mine

Berlin - Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH (BGE), the federal company for radioactive waste disposal, has instructed Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft to advise the approval procedure to implement a retrieval plan for radioactive waste from the Asse II shaft mine.


According to the German Atomic Energy Act (Sec. 57b), BGE is legally obliged to retrieve the radioactive waste from Asse (a shaft mine near Wolfenbüttel in Lower Saxony, Germany). It concerns more than 120,000 containers of low and intermediate level radioactive waste (together approximately 47,000 m³) that were placed in storage in the Asse II shaft mine at a depth of 725m to 750m up until 1978. The planned retrieval of the underground waste is a globally unique project that has high technical and legal requirements under difficult framework conditions.

Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft, headed by Prof. Dr Tobias Leidinger, won a nationwide competition for the award of legal services for the preparation of executable approval documentation for all stages of the retrieval process. The approval concept includes all the necessary steps required for the retrieval of the radioactive waste. This includes the recovery of the containers of waste that are stored underground, their repackaging, transport via a new retrieval mine which will need to be built, the subsequent treatment of the waste and (interim) storage above ground, including the legally required emergency response plan. The first step will be to build a retrieval shaft and connect it to the old mine.

Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft has special strategic and advisory expertise in the area of nuclear, radiation protection and mining law from comparably complex projects. This includes, among other things, the approval and construction of interim nuclear storage facilities as well as the decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear reactors.

Prof. Dr Tobias Leidinger, Luther: “We are delighted that our team and our project expertise have been chosen to actively support BGE with this important project. The aim is to develop an executable approval strategy for the entire retrieval process for the Asse II waste, taking into account all the requirements.”  

“There is no role model for the decommissioning of the Asse II shaft mine,” said Dr Thomas Lautsch, the BGE Technical Director responsible for the project. “BGE has developed an approval concept and an approval strategy will be developed in the course of the implementation steps that will now follow. We are pleased to have the law firm Luther on our side for this.

About BGE:

BGE is a federally owned company belonging to the portfolio of the Federal Ministry for the Environment. On 25 April 2017, BGE took over responsibility as operator of the Asse II shaft mine and the Konrad and Morsleben final repositories from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. Other tasks include the search for a final repository site for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste generated in Germany on the basis of the German Site Selection Act, which came into force in May 2017.

On behalfof BGE:

Luther, Environment and Planning Law, Regulatory: Prof. Dr Tobias Leidinger (lead), Dr Stefan Kobes (Partner), Dr Gernot-Rüdiger Engel (Partner), Dr Mathias Mailänder (Counsel)

Luther, Legal Project Management: Mike Schoberth