Nuclear waste repository: Germany continues to participate in the search in Switzerland

As in Germany, there is also a search for a location for safe final disposal in Switzerland. Germany has been participating in this since June 2006 in the form of the Swiss Deep Storage Expert Group (ESchT) and has now extended the financial support for it by three years.

In the current third stage of the search for a repository, the regions Jura Ost, Nördlich Lägern and Zürich Nordost come into question in Switzerland, since the Opalinus Clay occurring in northern Switzerland is considered to be particularly suitable as a host rock. The regions are all in the immediate vicinity of the border with Germany.

The ESchT should ensure that the interests of the German communities near the border are adequately taken into account. It does this together with the German Coordination Center for Swiss Deep Storage (DKST), which is jointly supported by Baden-Württemberg.

“The search for a nuclear waste repository is a great challenge for society as a whole. It can only be achieved transparently,” explains Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Federal Environment Ministry. The public must be fully involved in this.

Eleven experts sit in Echt, such as Gerhard Enste from the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials, Iris Graffunder from the disposal plant for nuclear facilities, Julia Neles from the Öko-Institut Darmstadt and Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Karl-Heinz Lux from the TU Clausthal. For example, the group of experts has drawn up a cross-border regional development strategy and a description of all environmental impacts.

In Switzerland, radioactive waste is generated in the four nuclear power plants, during the dismantling of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant and in medicine, industry and research. According to the Swiss Nuclear Energy Act, which has been in force since February 2005, and the Nuclear Energy Ordinance, a sectoral plan had to be drawn up to define repository locations. The location search process based on this has been running since 2008 and is expected to be completed in 2031.

A suitable location for a nuclear waste repository is also to be found in Germany by 2031. By the end of September 2020 it was clear that 54 percent of the federal territory was in the white selection.


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