Gabriel said that operations to improve the situation at the ramshackle facility would begin within the next few months.
“I am sure, that we can come to a decision by the end of the year,” he told broadcaster ARD on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile Merkel told news agency DPA that Asse, located near the town of Wolfenbüttel, would be “properly renovated” so that the nation could forget their worries over the site. “We have taken the bull by the horns,” she said.
The waste depot was taken over by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) from the allegedly careless former proprietor Helmholtz Zentrum in January. BfS investigation has since revealed disturbing safety breaches at the site.
Radioactive waste was stored at the former salt mine between 1967 and 1978. In recent years water has threatened to leak into the facility. Meanwhile over the weekend it was revealed that there was three times as much plutonium stored there than previously thought.
Environment Minister Gabriel said that while there was “no acute danger” to the public from the radioactive material, there was, however, a “long-tern danger.” He put forward three options for securing the site – moving its contents to a safer storage facility, re-securing it within the current facility, or filling the mine with cement.