Layers under the street

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The Bundesrat today approved the Geological Data Act on the basis of the Mediation Committee's proposal for an agreement, which was confirmed by the Bundestag on 29 May 2020. The approval paves the way for replacing the completely outdated Repositories Act with a modern Freedom of Information Act.

Parliamentary State Secretary Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, who chaired the Mediation Committee on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, said: "This means that the mediation procedure, which was carried out in a swift and constructive manner, has been a success. Following extensive cooperation with the federal states, the outdated Repositories Act will now be replaced by a modern Freedom of Information Act."

For the first time, the law will contain an obligation for the responsible authorities to secure geological data so that they are permanently available for the geological tasks of the federal and state governments. The new law will also harmonise obligations to transmit geological data that are important for the production of raw materials and energy, other uses of subsoil and a transparent site selection process for a repository for high-level radioactive waste.

The Act also creates an important basis for data transparency in the transparent search for and selection of a site for high-level radioactive waste. The amendments tabled by the Mediation Committee make it even clearer that transparency with regard to the geological data relevant to decision-making is of great importance for gaining public acceptance for a future site for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste. The agreement reached is a good compromise between the objective of providing the greatest possible transparency of data for the search for a repository and the protection of industrial and business secrets of the industry concerned, as provided for under constitutional law.