Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Hans-Heinrich Sander told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday morning that operators Helmholtz Zentrum München were to blame for the scandal at Asse and not the state government.
“What do you want to do when the people that work there are of the opinion they have things under control,” he said.
Jürgen Trittin, leading Green party politician and former environment minister at both the federal level and in Lower Saxony told public broadcaster ARD that a criminal investigation was necessary to clarify who had allowed Asse to end up in such a precarious state. He said there were suspicions that highly radioactive waste were there without proper authorization.
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday afternoon accused the operators of depositing highly radioactive waste for decades at the site. Some experts are concerned the moist salt deposits could also damage containers stored there. He presented a report on the state of Asse, which was determined to be in worrying condition earlier this year.
“The fears about the condition of Asse were confirmed and further serious shortcomings in previous methods of operation were found,” Gabriel said, adding in his opinion Asse was "the most problematic nuclear facility in all of Europe."