Schachtanlage Asse II


Useful Information

photography
Removal of the brine on the 658 m level, Schachtanlage Asse II, Germany. Public Domain.
Location: Am Walde 2, 38319 Remlingen-Semmenstedt.
(52.129691, 10.670564)
Open: Infostelle: All year Wed-Fri 9-17.
Befahrung: All year Mon-Fri after appointment.
[2022]
Fee: Infostelle: free.
Befahrung: free.
[2022]
Classification: MineSalt Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:
Guided tours: Infostelle: self guided.
Befahrung: MinAge=16, Max=12.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: Infostelle: yes.
Befahrung: no.
Bibliography:
Address: Infostelle und Befahrungen der Schachtanlage Asse II, Am Walde 1 38319 Remlingen, Tel: +49-5336-89-2640, Fax: +49-5336-89-2494. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1894-1895 Three deep boreholes reveal salt deposits at a depth of 296 m.
1899 Potash mining in the Asse I mine near Wittmar.
1905 Water inrush.
1906 Asse I closed due to the water inrush.
1906-1908 Asse II shaft sunk to a depth of 765 m.
1909-1925 Mining of carnallite.
1916-1964 Mining of Leine rock salt.
1927-1964 Mining of Staßfurt rock salt at greater depths in the core of the salt dome.
1964 End of salt mining.
1965 Operated as a research mine.
1967-1978 Final disposal of radioactive waste tested and practised on a large scale.
1995 End of research work.
1995-2004 Backfilling of remaining cavities.
2007 Final closure applied for.
2008 Media scandal due to serious deficiencies in storage.
01-JAN-2009 Repository is operated under nuclear law by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).
2010 Plan for retrieval of stored waste.
APR-2017 Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE) takes over operation of the Asse.

Geology

The entire subsoil of the North German Plain is a basin of 2 to 4.5 km thick Mesozoic sediments. The sedimentary rocks lie on crystalline basement of metamorphic rocks. The lowest layer is a thick layer of evaporites, mainly rock salt, but also gypsum and various other salts, from the Zechstein. In the course of time, the sedimentary layer has been lifted by tectonic forces and has fractured in the process. The salt, which began to flow due to the high pressure of the rocks, moved into these zones of weakness. Since it is also lighter than the surrounding rock, it tries to rise. The result is salt walls and salt diapirs, known as halotectonics.

The Asse is a very straight, elongated mountain range that formed along a fault. The rising salt has bent the rocks on both sides of the fault upwards, dipping them at about 45° at the earth's surface. They form several parallel escarpments or ribs. This upside-down V has a core of ascended salt that was mined in the Asse mine.

Description

photography
Control panel of the crane system, Schachtanlage Asse II, Germany. Public Domain.
photography
Feed chamber above chamber 8a, Schachtanlage Asse II, Germany. Public Domain.

The Asse salt mine was named after the Asse ridge. The shaft through which most of the salt was mined was already the second, so it was also known as the Schachtanlage Asse II (Asse II mine). After the end of salt mining, the mine should actually have been closed, but the emerging nuclear industry in Germany needed a deep geological repository for its nuclear waste. So the mine was renamed the Asse Research Mine and a private operating company conducted extensive research into the properties of the salt. Eventually, low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste was emplaced and the effects on the salt were studied. The whole process was supervised by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS). The research work on the deep geological repository ended in 1995. After that, the mine was to be backfilled and thus closed.

But where money is concerned, unscrupulous people can be found, and when the operators had already applied to close the mine under mining law, a scandal broke in the media. The accusation was that the operators, out of greed for money, had accepted waste that should not have been stored in the first place, and that they had also economised on storage and simply thrown the containers in indiscriminately, causing them to break open and the radioactive waste to escape. Moreover, they had concealed this from the supervisory authorities (BfS), which was later officially confirmed. Furthermore, no account was taken of the fact that groundwater penetrates the salt dome and that there is thus a risk that the storage containers might be uncovered quite quickly by natural processes. The bottom line is that radioactive material is floating in a warm salt lake that is slowly moving through the salt dome by convection and the dissolution and redeposition of salt. If it reaches the edge of the salt dome, the springs in the vicinity will probably glow at night. And if you go to the official website of the BfS you will find the following statement: "At present, the parties involved estimate the costs of preparing for retrieval to be around 3.35 billion euros by 2033." Just to make it clear, it is not the retrieval of the waste that costs over three billion Euro, the planning and keeping the Asse in operation alone costs that much. Salvage costs many times that amount, and it is impossible to estimate how much it will cost when and if it finally gets underway in 10 years' time. This in fact proves the unsuitability of salt domes as final repositories; even in the future, people will not be able to get out of their skin, so it is all the more important that a deep geological repository is greed-proof. And the delusion of cheap nuclear power is also out of the question, there is nothing cheap about it, and the citizens finance it all, it is just not billed on the electricity bill. It's like getting petrol for 10 cents a litre in exchange for an increase in income tax to 70%.

While the Asse was still a research mine, the operator also gave mine tours. It was never a real show mine, but you could take the lift down and visit parts of the site. This was probably intended as public relations, to advertise and to give the impression of openness. There were always times when it was not possible to visit the site, but in the meantime the BfS is offering such visits again. In addition, there is now a fairly large museum across the street, behind the staff car park. In the so-called Infostelle (info point), interested people can find out about the history of the Asse and the deep geological repository of radioactive waste. So this is at least partly a mining museum. In addition, the headframe of Asse II can easily be seen from the outside. A visit is always worthwhile, and if the weather is nice, a short hike to the Bismarcktum and the Asseburg is recommended. It usually offers a beautiful view of the Harz mountains and the Brocken.

The guided tours are public relations work by BfS and as such are free of charge. However, they are only offered on weekdays, you have to book and expect to wait several weeks. You get white trousers and a jacket, a helmet, a headlamp and rubber boots, so you go in like any miner. The mine is of course made to be safe for people, it is after all first and foremost a workplace, but it is not a show mine. It is more like a tour of a large construction site. In addition, you can hardly expect to see the place where the nuclear waste is located, which has been filled in and would be life-threatening because of the radiation.