Germany’s first nuclear power plant – an experimental reactor located in Kahl near Aschaffenburg in Lower Franconia – went into operation in November 1960. At present (2020), Germany still has six reactors with authorisation for power operation at commercial nuclear power plants at six locations. As stipulated in the German Atomic Energy Act, the authorisation for power operation for these last six reactors will expire on a stepwise basis by the end of 2022 at the latest. The facilities will then be decommissioned. In addition, Germany has a number of other nuclear power plants which are already being decommissioned or whose authorisation for power operation has expired pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act (see map + profiles).
In accordance with the Nuclear Safety Officer and Reporting Ordinance (Atomrechtliche Sicherheitsbeauftragten- und Meldeverordnung – AtSMV), nuclear facility operators must report accidents, incidents or other events significant to nuclear safety (reportable events) to the competent supervisory authorities at the Land level.
In response to the Fukushima nuclear accident, risk and safety assessments (stress tests) were carried out on all EU nuclear power plants, based on intensive cooperation between plant operators, the national nuclear regulatory authorities and the European Commission and focusing on the following areas:
- external hazards
- loss of safety functions (successive loss of power supplies, loss of ultimate heat sink andcombination of both incidents)
- measures against and management of severe accidents.
In addition, safety at German nuclear power plants was assessed against criteria produced by the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA), a technical group of regulatory authorities.