Trip to Asse II

 

Asse II is a former salt mine owned by the German Government, situated in Remlingen, Lower Saxony, and used as a nuclear waste disposal system. Due to instabilities and water penetration from unknown sources it needs to be stabilized and evacuated before it can be put out of service.

On May 23rd, 2014 12 members of the TUBAF GPS went on a trip to Asse II to get informed about future plans, problems both in mining and radiation protection and to visit the shaft. Of course, special attention was spent on geophysical monitoring such as seismic and acoustic methods and GPR in stability investigations.

After light refreshments Ms Haase, employee of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, held a highly informative talk on the history of the former mine and arising problems of today’s nuclear waste disposal system. Having maps, models and photographs added to the lecture she caught our attention in a wink, answered loads of questions competently and humorously and piqued everyone’s curiosity to finally go underground and examine the subject-matter with one’s own eyes.

Dressed in miners’ uniforms including helmet, dosimeter and self-contained breathing apparatus 12 excited students and three guides went down to the first floor at a depth of 490m. The unpleasant high temperatures due to the work underground quickly were forgotten when explanations on various measuring stations, rise and on the everyday’s work of the mining people were given illustrated by real equipment and working processes.

The main highlight of the tour was the underground car ride descending floor by floor along the main road until we finally approached the deepest floor at 735m. Narrow turns and black darkness all around led to an impressing adventure.  Furthermore, it was weird to walk alongside containers marked as radioactive. Though they are non- dangerous, they have to be marked till non-hazardess is proofed. And by watching TV we are trained to be scared by this yellow sign yelling: Radioactive!

Unfortunately, this is only one example showing the lack of information the Federal Office for Radiation Protection aims to erase, e.g. by the visitor centre “Info Asse”, including an exhibition showing photographs, documentation films and providing lots of information material for take away. Additionally, interested groups can attend guided tours inside the mine.

We enjoyed our stay at this unique place not only in Germany but worldwide and highly recommend a visit to this one-of-a-kind research laboratory, ex-mine and human-made problem.

Special thanks for guiding and informing goes to Ms Haase, Ms Parlitz and Ms Hegemann enabling this memorable event!

 

For further information click here.