The Nuclear Garbage Man

Power transmission lines hang from an electricity pylon as a cooling tower emits vapor into the night sky at Emsland Nuclear Power plant, operated by RWE AG, in Emsland, Germany, on Friday, July 31, 2015. In one of the most ambitious political undertakings of a modern industrial economy, Germany is shutting down all its nuclear power plants by 2022. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
Germany's nuclear power plants, like this one in Emsland operated by RWE, are being shut down. Companies and the government have now agreed a plan for dealing with their waste.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Before Germany can phase out nuclear energy, the federal government and power companies must first decide how to dispose of the waste that is left over.

  • Facts


    • The German government will take responsibility for disposing of the nuclear companies’ waste in exchange for a payment in the billions of euros.
    • A commission tasked with estimating the financial obligations of the nuclear companies for the phaseout has put the bill at €23.3 billion, which has to be adjusted for 2016.
    • The nuclear companies –  Vattenfall, E.ON, RWE and EnBW – have set aside €39 billion so far.
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The German government has reached an agreement on who should bear the cost and responsibility for atomic waste disposal after Germany phases out its nuclear power plants in the coming decade, according to Handelsblatt sources in parliament.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, and the relevant deputy ministers met on Monday in Berlin where they cleared up their remaining differences on when the four energy companies can turn over their nuclear waste and how much it should cost them.

The deal marks the latest chapter in Germany’s ambitious shift to safer, renewable sources of energy.

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