Direct ultimate waste disposal means that the entire fuel element including the valuable substances uranium and plutonium is disposed of as radionuclide waste following interim storage to allow decay of the short-lived radionuclides and a related reduction in the heat generation. In a conditioning plant, the fuel elements are dismantled, packed in special drums suitable for ultimate disposal before being stored as radioactive waste in a repository. In Germany, this method of disposal has been developed supplementing disposal with reprocessing. The establishment of a pilot conditioning plant in Gorleben is intended to verify the technical feasibility of conditioning spent fuel elements. In parallel, a demonstration programme proved the safe handling and the safe inclusion of conditioned fuel elements in a repository. The amendment of the Atomic Energy Act 1994 provided the legal prerequisites for direct ultimate waste disposal in Germany. According to the agreement between the Federal Government and the nuclear power plant operators, the disposal of spent fuel elements from nuclear power plants will be limited to direct ultimate waste disposal from 1st July 2005 onwards.