The Swiss authorities have chosen a site in northern Switzerland, not far from the German border, to host a deep geological repository for radioactive waste.
After nearly 50 years of searching for the best way to store its radioactive waste, Switzerland is preparing for its “project of the century”, to bury spent nuclear fuel deep in clay.
The country’s radioactive waste management organization said on Saturday it had decided the Nördlich Lägern region was the best of three sites it had considered for the underground storage facility.
Officials “chosen Nördlich Lägern as the safest site for a deep geological repository,” Felix Glauser, spokesman for the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra), told AFP, confirming a information from the Swiss press agency Keystone. -ATS.
“Extensive investigations have shown that Nördlich Lägern is the most suitable site and has the greatest security reserves,” he added.
Nagra has informed the local population directly and is expected to present its proposal to the Swiss government on Monday, Keystone-ATS reported.
The Swiss government is not expected to make the final decision until 2029, but that is unlikely to be the final word as the issue would likely be put to a referendum under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy.
Swiss nuclear power plants have been pumping radioactive waste for more than half a century. After the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant in Japan, Switzerland decided to gradually phase out nuclear power: its reactors can continue as long as they remain safe.
For now, the waste is stored in an intermediate repository in Würenlingen, 15 km from the German border.
With the new facility, Switzerland hopes to join an elite club of countries approaching deep geological disposal. So far, only Finland has built a site, in granite. Sweden gave the go-ahead in January to build its own waste nuclear fuel burial site in granite. France is also considering storing radioactive waste underground in clay.
In Switzerland, approximately 83,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste, including some high-level waste, will have to be buried. This volume corresponds to a 60-year operating life of the Beznau, Gosgen and Leibstadt nuclear power plants, and the 47 years of operation of Muhleberg before their closure in 2019.
Filling of underground tombs with nuclear waste is expected to begin by 2060, followed by several decades of close monitoring. The site would be sealed sometime in the 22nd century.