The German Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz – AtG) was promulgated on 23 December 1959 after the Federal Republic of Germany had officially renounced any use of nuclear weapons. Since then, it has been amended several times. The purpose of the Atomic Energy Act following the amendment of 2002 is:

     
  • to phase out the use of nuclear energy for the commercial production of electricity in a structured manner, 
  • to ensure regular operation of the nuclear power plants until the date of discontinuation,
  • to protect life, health and property against the hazards of nuclear energy and the harmful effects of ionising radiation and to compensate for any damage and injuries incurred,
  • to prevent the internal or external security of the Federal Republic of Germany from being endangered by the utilisation of nuclear energy, and
  • to ensure that the Federal Republic of Germany meets its international obligations in the field of nuclear energy and radiation protection. 


Pursuant to Section 7 of the Atomic Energy Act, a licence is required

  • for the construction, operation or holding of a stationary installation for the production, treatment, processing or fission of nuclear fuel,
  • for essential modifications to an installation or its operation, and also for its decommissioning.


This licence may only be granted if the licensing criteria stipulated in Section 7, paragraph 2 of the Atomic Energy Act are fulfilled, i.e. if

  • there are no known facts giving rise to concerns as to the reliability of the applicant and of the person responsible for the construction, management and supervision of the operation of the plant, and if the persons responsible for the construction, management and supervision of the operation of the plant have the requisite qualifications (number 1), 
  • it is assured that the persons who are otherwise engaged in the operation of the installation have the necessary knowledge concerning its safe operation, potential hazards and the protective measures to be taken (number 2), 
  • the necessary precautions against damage arising from the plant’s construction and operation have been taken, based on the latest knowledge in the field of science and technology (number 3), 
  • the necessary provision has been made to comply with legal obligations to pay compensation for damage (number 4),
  • the necessary protection has been provided against malicious acts or other interference by third parties (number 5) and
  • the selection of the site of the installation does not conflict with overriding public interests, particularly as regards its environmental impacts (number 6).

 

In light of Section 7, paragraph 1, second sentence of the Atomic Energy Act, which stipulates that no further licences will be issued for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities, these criteria are now relevant and applicable only in relation to the granting of licences for modifications or decommissioning/dismantling of existing plants.