Proposed Swiss nuclear waste site gets German backing

A container designed to store nuclear waste. Petra Orosz

The site selected near the border for storing Swiss nuclear waste has been deemed suitable by an expert group from Germany. 

This content was published on October 19, 2022 minutes

The arguments of the Swiss National Co-operative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) in favour of the northern Lägern region of Zurich are understandable and plausible in principle, according to a report by the German expert group Deep Geological Repository (ESchT), dated Monday. The report was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).

The expert group’s opinion is based on “the current state of knowledge of technical safety” following a plausibility study. According to their 17-page report, the site selection by the Swiss is based on a scientific and transparent procedure that complies with the requirements of the German Site Selection Act. They were also convinced by Nagra’s justification for packaging all types of radioactive waste in disposal containers at the Zwilag interim storage facility in Würenlingen in canton Aargau.

The German experts recommend that Nagra should provide information in good time, particularly on the nuclear waste transport routes. They also expect Nagra to work out solutions with regional players.

Nagra’s decision to build a repository for radioactive waste north of Lägern, not far from the German border, was announced on September 12. For almost 50 years, Switzerland had been searching for a suitable location for the storage of radioactive waste. Three potential regions had been proposed: in addition to the northern Lägern region, sites in the Zurich Weinland region and in the Jura East region of Aargau were in the running.

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