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World|environment|December 1, 2019 / 05:28 PM
Germany is closing all its nuclear power plants. Now it must find a place to bury the deadly waste for 1 million years

AKIPRESS.COM - When it comes to the big questions plaguing the world's scientists, they don't get much larger than this, CNN reports.

Where do you safely bury more than 28,000 cubic meters -- roughly six Big Ben clock towers -- of deadly radioactive waste for the next million years?

This is the "wicked problem" facing Germany as it closes all of its nuclear power plants in the coming years, according to Professor Miranda Schreurs, part of the team searching for a storage site.

Experts are now hunting for somewhere to bury almost 2,000 containers of high-level radioactive waste. The site must be beyond rock-solid, with no groundwater or earthquakes that could cause a leakage.

The technological challenges -- of transporting the lethal waste, finding a material to encase it, and even communicating its existence to future humans -- are huge.

But the most pressing challenge today might simply be finding a community willing to have a nuclear dumping ground in their backyard.

Germany decided to phase out all its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, amid increasing safety concerns.

The seven power stations still in operation today are due to close by 2022.

With their closure comes a new challenge -- finding a permanent nuclear graveyard by the government's 2031 deadline.

Germany's Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy says it aims to find a final repository for highly radioactive waste "which offers the best possible safety and security for a period of a million years."

The country was a "blank map" of potential sites, it added.

Currently, high-level radioactive waste is stored in temporary facilities, usually near the power plant it came from.

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