After consulting the Länder, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) publishes notifications in the form of standards, directives, regulatory guidelines, criteria and recommendations. Most are regulations, adopted on the basis of consensus with the competent licensing and supervisory authorities of the Länder, on the uniform application of the Atomic Energy Act.
The BMU’s notifications outline the position of the federal licensing and supervisory authority on general issues of nuclear safety and administrative practice; if decisions have been reached unanimously in the Länder Committee for Nuclear Energy (LAA), they also set out the position of the equivalent authorities at Land level on these issues. The notifications provide the Länder authorities with guidance on implementing the Atomic Energy Act. They are also a frame of reference for the Länder authorities during licensing procedures or supervisory activities falling within their sphere of competence. This ensures that the Act is implemented, as far as possible, in accordance with comparable criteria in the various Länder. In relation to the nuclear power plant licensees, the notifications acquire binding legal force through references to them in nuclear licences or in decrees issued by a nuclear supervisory authority.
Currently, more than 100 BMU notifications exist for the nuclear sector.
The most important sub-statutory regulations are the Safety Requirements for Nuclear Power Plants, including relevant Interpretations. They set out the basic and overarching safety criteria applicable at the sub-statutory level, which support the elaboration of the necessary precautions against damage arising from the plant’s construction and operation based on the latest knowledge in the field of science and technology (Section 7, paragraph 2, number 3 of the Atomic Energy Act) and the provisions of Section 7d of this Act. In Germany, these criteria are now relevant and applicable only in relation to the granting of licences for modifications to existing plants. Supreme court rulings on the scope of reviews by the authorities in modification approval procedures must also be taken into account. The Safety Requirements were last updated on 30 March 2015. The BMU’s notification specifies the framework in which the Länder must apply the Safety Requirements. To the extent necessary in terms of technical safety, reference should also be made to the Safety Requirements if an installation has forfeited its licence to produce power pursuant to Section 7, paragraph 1a of the Atomic Energy Act or has switched to post-operational mode following a decision by the licensee.
The following issues are also dealt with:
- accident management measures to be planned by the plant operators with regard to postulated severe accidents,
- disaster control measures in the vicinity of nuclear installations,
- measures against disruptive action or other interference by third parties,
- radiation protection during maintenance work,
- reporting criteria for reportable events at nuclear power plants and research reactors,
- monitoring of emissions and radioactivity in the environment,
- periodic safety reviews for nuclear power plants,
- technical documents to be prepared in relation to the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants,
- documents to be supplied with the application for a licence,
- procedures for the preparation and performance of maintenance and modification work in nuclear power plants and
- the qualifications required by personnel in nuclear installations.