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History of the Richard repository

This extensive underground complex, which has had a number of uses over its history, is located beneath one of the hills above the town of Litoměřice in northern Bohemia.

The quarrying of limestone from beneath Bídnice hill commenced in the first half of the 19th century. The limestone in this area was located at a depth of 70 to 80 metres below the surface in a seam with a thickness of around five metres, i.e. the optimum environment for the mining of this mineral, a fact which led to the creation of three separate limestone mines in this location alone.

Between 1943 and 1944 the Nazis chose this location for the construction of an underground factory for the Auto Union A.G. Chemnitz (for the production of components and parts for Maybach - type HL 230 engines) and Osram companies. The construction of the underground production complex was given the code-name Richard. Imprisoned miners, bricklayers, concrete workers, electricians, plumbers and other craftsmen, transported to the site from a labour camp in Litoměřice or from the nearby Terezín concentration camp, were forced to work on this huge building project. However, in the end, only a few production halls were completed for the Auto Union company.

After the end of the war, the underground complex was in various stages of construction from fully-completed production halls to passageways driven prior to the expansion of mining activities. Following the removal of all the equipment at the end of 1945, the Čížkovice cement and lime company resumed the mining of limestone. Over the next 15 years, a vast complex of tunnels were created in the Richard I complex. Eventually, extraction was terminated due to the high costs of underground quarrying compared to that of the opencast method.

Alternative uses for all three Richard mines were considered as early as the 1950s. In 1959 one of the first official proposals was put forward concerning the use of the Richard II complex for the disposal of radioactive waste, and the facility was put into operation five years later.