Where to put the approximately 126,000 barrels of low and medium level radioactive waste stored in the ailing Asse II mine in the Wolfenbüttel district in Lower Saxony is still an open question.

Because water has been penetrating for a long time and could threaten an environmental catastrophe in the long term, the nuclear waste dump has to be cleared and the explosive waste, which mainly comes from nuclear power plants, research and hospitals, has to be temporarily stored elsewhere, by 2033 at the latest To avoid this, the population of the region should be involved in retrieving the radioactive material from the shaft.

Manfred Lindinger

Editor in the “Nature and Science” section.

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Against this background, a publicly accessible measuring point for environmental radioactivity has now been set up in the municipality of Remlingen-Semmenstedt not far from the Asse. Interested citizens and schoolchildren can use a modern gamma spectrometer to learn to measure radioactivity in environmental samples from the environment themselves and to interpret and assess the measured values. This project, which is so far unique in Germany, is being supervised by scientists from the Institute for Radioecology and Radiation Protection at Leibniz University in Hanover. "The measuring device is so sensitive that it can differentiate between natural and artificial radioactivity," says Clemens Walther, deputy spokesman for the project.

By including the local population in the measurement of environmental radioactivity, it is hoped to create a scientifically sound basis for public discourse on the problem of the final disposal of radioactive substances, which remains to be solved.

The researchers from Hanover are based on experience in the United States, where, for example, measuring points for the population were set up in the former nuclear weapons test site in Nevada as early as the 1980s.

By giving citizens the opportunity to “build up their own measurement expertise, interpret data correctly, and consistently publish measurement results, an important contribution to informative self-determination in the population is made in this sensitive topic,” says Walther.

Keywords: citizens, radioactivity, nuclear waste storage facility, environment, samples, the asse ii, asse ii, waste, exhibition point, project, clemens walther, manfred lindingereditor, disposal, united states, question.