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Recommendations and other regulations

Recommendations by the RSK, ESK and SSK; RSK Guidelines

On important issues concerning nuclear licensing and supervision procedures, the development of regulations and safety research, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) consults its advisory commissions:

  • The Reactor Safety Commission (RSK)
  • The Nuclear Waste Management Commission (ESK)
  • The German Commission on Radiological Protection (SSK)

The commissions may also provide advice on their own initiative. Depending on the issue at hand, Länder authorities, experts, operators or other technically competent institutions and individuals are also consulted. The results of these consultations take the form of statements or recommendations for the BMUV. The licensing and supervisory authorities of the Länder review the recommendations and statements as part of their responsibilities during licensing and supervisory procedures, with a particular focus on site-specific relevance. They decide whether there is a need for action in the case at hand and if so, what form this action should take. They then initiate any measures that may be necessary.

KTA Safety Standards

The Nuclear Safety Standards Commission (Kerntechnischer Ausschuss – KTA) is appointed by the BMUV. The KTA comprises seven expert representatives from each of the following groups:

  • Competent Länder authorities responsible for enforcing the German Atomic Energy Act in nuclear installations and Federal Government authority responsible for supervision in accordance with Articles 85 and 87c of the Basic Law,
  • Manufacturers and developers of nuclear installations,
  • Nuclear installation operators,
  • Authorised experts and advisory organisations and
  • Other authorities, organisations and offices from the field of nuclear safety.


The KTA is governed by an Executive Committee (Präsidium), consisting of one member and one deputy member from each of the following groups: manufacturers, operators, authorities and authorised experts. The members of this Executive Committee elect a chairperson from one of their number.

The affairs of the KTA are managed by the KTA-office (KTA-GS), which is bureaucratically attached to the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (Bundesamt für die Sicherheit der nuklearen Entsorgung - BASE). The KTA-office is led by a Managing Director in accordance with the instructions of the Executive Committee.

In accordance with its statutes, the KTA establishes detailed safety standards on the basis of experience gained whenever a uniform position emerges among professionals from the manufacturers, constructors and operators of nuclear installations, authorised experts and public authorities. The safety standards are developed in sub-committees and working parties of experts and then adopted by the KTA. The five groups have equal representation, with each having seven out of a total of 35 votes. A safety standard is only adopted if five-sixths of the members vote in favour. This means that no group that votes unanimously can be outvoted.

The KTA safety standards pertain to

  • organisational issues,
  • occupational health and safety (specific additional requirements in the field of nuclear technology),
  • civil engineering,
  • nuclear and thermal-hydraulic design,
  • materials,
  • instrumentation and control,
  • monitoring of radioactivity,
  • other provisions. 

Quality assurance and quality management play a major role; these aspects are addressed in most of the safety standards. The term “quality assurance”, as used in the KTA safety standards, also comprises the area of ageing management, which is now treated as a separate issue at the international level. Specific KTA standards apply to management systems and ageing management. 

Conventional technical standards

In addition, conventional technical standards – primarily the national standards set by the German Institute for Standardization (DIN e. V.) and the international ISO and IEC standards – apply to the construction and operation of nuclear installations. 

These conventional technical standards are the minimum applicable to nuclear systems and components. Provisions adopted by the Federation and the Länder on the nuclear sector are not affected by the conventional standards if those provisions establish or permit other or more stringent requirements.