ON NOVEMBER 27, SWISS VOTERS WILL DECIDE WHETHER TO TURN OFF THE COUNTRY’S NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS AFTER 45 YEARS OF ACTIVITY. BUT WHAT DOES DISMANTLING A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT INVOLVE? WHAT ARE THE DIFFICULTIES? SWISSINFO.CH LOOKS AT THE EXAMPLE OF MÜHLEBERG.
BANNING CONSTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS AND LIMITING TO 45 YEARS THE USE OF EXISTING ONES: THAT’S WHAT A PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE FROM THE GREEN PARTY, TO BE VOTED ON IN NOVEMBER, PROPOSES. IT HAS NOT BEEN ENDORSED BY THE CABINET OR BY PARLIAMENT.
Dismantling the Mühleberg nuclear power station will generate around 200,000 tonnes of waste. Most of the material will be decontaminated directly in situ and recycled or disposed of in appropriate landfills.
The whole operation should finish around 2034
In Switzerland, nuclear energy is used exclusively for peaceful purposes: the production of electricity and applications in the sectors of medicine, industry and research.
In 2015, the country’s five power plants produced 22.1 terawatts of electricity (33.5% of the national total). Currently, Beznau I is closed after small cracks were spotted in the containment structure.
Globally, there are 447 nuclear reactors used for commercial purposes in 31 countries (as of September 2016). Most are in the US (100), France (58), Japan (43), Russia (36) and China (34). In total, they produce 11.5% of global electricity.