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Swiss population keen for nuclear bunkers, -but it’s doubtful that they’d be any use anyway.

‘A large-scale nuclear war would however be catastrophic, and no state would be able to guard against the effects.’

Companies are ‘overwhelmed with enquiries’ for NUCLEAR BUNKERS in Switzerland and reporting shortage of materials following Ukraine invasion

  • Since 1960s, every Swiss municipality had to build nuclear bunkers for residents
  • Residents are now contacting specialist companies to build or renovate shelters 
  • The bunkers are being viewed in a new light since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

By RACHAEL BUNYAN FOR MAILONLINE and AFP 26 April 2022 

Companies that build and repair bomb shelters are being ‘overwhelmed with enquiries’ for nuclear fallout bunkers in Switzerland, as Russian’s invasion of Ukraine has reawakened interest in the secure facilities.

Residents in Switzerland, where nuclear bunkers have been mandatory for every household since the 1960s, are now contacting the companies to build or renovate their shelters to make sure they can be protected in the event of bombings or nuclear war.

Demand is so high for the concrete nuclear bunkers that specialist companies are now facing shortages in raw materials required to build them………………………………………………………………….

Switzerland’s vast network of nuclear bunkers have a range of other day-to-day uses, including as military barracks or as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers. But Swiss authorities require that they can be emptied and reverted back to nuclear shelters within five days. 

So far, Switzerland’s population has never been ordered down into the shelters, not even in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. 

Experts say the most likely scenario for needing to use them has always been a possible accident at one of Switzerland’s own nuclear power plants. 

But now the conflict raging in Ukraine has added a new, urgent layer to the national nuclear anxiety. 

With public concern growing, Swiss authorities have published overviews of the available shelter spots, and have urged households to always maintain a stock of food to last at least a week. ………………………………..

Experts caution though that the level of protection provided by the shelters in the case of actual nuclear weapons use would depend heavily on the intensity and proximity of the strikes. 

‘The shelters could offer the population a certain level of temporary protection against radioactive events,’ Swiss defence ministry spokesman Andreas Bucher said.

‘A large-scale nuclear war would however be catastrophic, and no state would be able to guard against the effects.’   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10751447/Companies-overwhelmed-enquiries-NUCLEAR-BUNKERS-Switzerland-following-Ukraine-invasion.html

April 26, 2022 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland plans to bury spent nuclear fuel deep underground in clay

 Straits Times SAINT-URSANNE, SWITZERLAND (AFP) 10 Apr 22, – Storing radioactive waste above ground is a risky business, but the Swiss think they have found the solution: Burying spent nuclear fuel deep underground in clay.

The Mont Terri international laboratory was built to study the effects of burying radioactive waste in clay which sits 300m below the surface near Saint-Ursanne in the northwestern Jura region.

The underground laboratory stretches across 1.2km of tunnels.

Niches along the way, each around 5m high, are filled with various storage simulations, containing small quantities of radioactive material monitored by thousands of sensors.

More than 170 experiments have been carried out to simulate the different phases of the process – positioning the waste, sealing off the tunnels, surveillance – and to reproduce every imaginable physical and chemical effect.

According to experts, it takes 200,000 years for the radioactivity in the most toxic waste to return to natural levels……..

Three prospective sites in the northeast, near the German border, have been identified to receive such radioactive waste.

Switzerland’s nuclear plant operators are expected to choose their preferred option in September.

The Swiss government is not due to make the final decision until 2029, but that is unlikely to be the last word as the issue would probably go to a referendum under Switzerland’s famous direct democracy system.

Despite the drawn-out process, environmental campaigners Greenpeace say Switzerland is moving too fast.

“There are a myriad of technical questions that have not been resolved,” Mr Florian Kasser, in charge of nuclear issues for the environmental activist group, told AFP.

For starters, he said, it remains to be seen if the systems in place can “guarantee there will be no radioactive leakage in 100, 1,000 or 100,000 years”.

“We are putting the cart before the horse, because with numerous questions still unresolved, we are already looking for sites” to host the storage facilities, he said.

Mr Kasser said Switzerland also needed to consider how it will signal where there sites are to ensure they are not forgotten, and that people many centuries from now remain aware of the dangers.

Swiss nuclear power plants have been pumping out radioactive waste for more than half a century.

Until now, it has been handled by the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste, or NAGRA, founded in 1972 by the plant operators in conjunction with the state.

For now, the waste is being stored in an “intermediary depot” in Wurenlingen, some 15km from the German border.

Switzerland hopes to join an elite club of countries closing in on deep geological storage……………….

Following the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan, Switzerland decided to phase out nuclear power gradually: Its reactors can continue for as long as they remain safe.

A projected 83,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste, including some high activity 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 that Muhleberg was in operation before closing in 2019.

Filling in the underground nuclear waste tombs should begin by 2060…….

The monitoring period will span several decades before the site is sealed some time in the 22nd century. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/switzerland-plans-to-bury-spent-nuclear-fuel-deep-underground-in-clay

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Switzerland, wastes | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s nuclear-war-readiness – bunkers for all


Nuclear bunkers for all: Switzerland is ready as international tensions mount , euronews, By Charlotte Lam  & AFP   03/04/2022
   Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reawakened interest in Switzerland’s concrete nuclear fallout shelters, built during the Cold War with enough space to shelter everyone in the country


Nuclear bunkers for all: Switzerland is ready as international tensions mount , euronews, By Charlotte Lam  & AFP   03/04/2022
   Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reawakened interest in Switzerland’s concrete nuclear fallout shelters, built during the Cold War with enough space to shelter everyone in the country.

Since the 1960s, every Swiss municipality has had to build nuclear bunkers for their residents – and they’re mandatory in large homes and residential buildings.

“I think this shelter system makes sense,” says Marie-Claude Noth-Ecoeur, who heads civil and military security services in the mountainous southern Wallis region.

“We remember the problems that occurred at Fukushima because there was a time when the Federal Chambers wanted to remove shelters but then Fukushima happened. We realise that there are nuclear power plants in Switzerland and in Europe. So yes, this is useful, it was designed for that and I think we must keep them, at least with what is happening in the world, we must keep them in a state of readiness.”

The shelters have become an integral part of the Swiss identity, on par with the country’s famous chocolate, banks and watches…………

The wealthy Alpine country has pledged that each and every resident will have a shelter space if needed. The country of 8.6 million people counts nearly nine million spaces across 365,000 private and public shelters.

But while there are more than enough spots at a national level, there are vast regional differences. Geneva is worst off, with only enough places for 75 per cent of its population.

Nicola Squillaci, head of Geneva’s civil protection and military affairs division, said the shelters were conceived to provide protection “, especially in the case of a bombing and a nuclear attack”…………..

Switzerland’s vast network of nuclear bunkers have a range of other day-to-day uses, including as military barracks or as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.

But Swiss authorities require that they can be emptied and reverted back to nuclear shelters within five days. https://www.euronews.com/2022/04/03/nuclear-bunkers-for-all-switzerland-is-ready-as-international-tensions-mount

April 4, 2022 Posted by | safety, Switzerland, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Scrutiny on Switzerland’s nuclear power industry- it gets uranium from Russia

Use of Russian uranium for Swiss nuclear power under scrutiny,   Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom helps fuel two nuclear power plants in Switzerland. That commercial link is now under scrutiny as the Western world puts financial pressure on Russia to stop its aggression against Ukraine. Swiss Info March 31, 2022 

Swiss electricity company Axpo purchases fuel from Rosatom to operate the Beznau and Leibstadt nuclear power plants in canton Aargau.

In a statement published on Thursday, the environmental NGO Greenpeace urged the authorities of seven Swiss cantons – which own Axpo – to stop buying uranium from Rosatom.

This commercial relationship, the NGO argued, helps to finance Russia’s war effort in Ukraine. Competitor company Alpiq, which runs the Gösgen nuclear site, stopped sourcing from Russia in 2016.

…………………………………..  Of Switzerland’s four nuclear reactors, only Gösgen, operated by the company Alpiq, does not buy Russian uranium. Alpiq said this decision was taken in 2016 due to considerations about environmental compatibility and supply chain transparency………..

By paying for Russian uranium – Switzerland could also indirectly help finance Russia’s military apparatus. SRF points that Rosatom is the manufacturer of Russia’s warheads and now controls the operation of various Ukrainian nuclear power plants, such as at Zaporizhia, seized after fighting on March 4.   https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/use-of-russian-uranium-for-swiss-nuclear-power-under-scrutiny/47479722

April 2, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Switzerland, Uranium | Leave a comment

City of Geneva calls for the closure of French nuclear station in Bugey

Boursorama 27th April 2021, Nuclear: the city of Geneva calls for the closure of the French power plant
in Bugey. Located about 70 kilometers as the crow flies from Geneva, it is
accused by the cantonal and municipal authorities of Geneva of causing
serious danger to the population because of its obsolescence.

https://www.boursorama.com/actualite-economique/actualites/nucleaire-la-ville-de-geneve-demande-la-fermeture-de-la-centrale-francaise-du-bugey-675eabc567add32699ff078a743e0b24

April 29, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics international, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Women in government – the key to getting rid of nuclear power

Nuclear withdrawal was thanks to women, says former energy minister, https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/nuclear-withdrawal-was-thanks-to-women–says-former-energy-minister/46423854  5 Mar 21, Having four women in Switzerland’s seven-person government played a key role in the decision to phase out nuclear energy ten years ago, according to Doris Leuthard, who was energy minister at the time of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima on March 11, 2011.

The three other female cabinet ministers at the time were Micheline Calmy-Rey and Simonetta Sommaruga from the left-wing Social Democratic Party and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf from the centre-right Conservative Democratic Party.Leuthard, from the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, admitted that she didn’t immediately realise the scale of the disaster at Fukushima.

“My first reaction was to say that that’s very far away from us, in Japan, in a country that deals seriously and professionally with events of this kind. I didn’t realise right away that it was a major disaster,” she told Le Temps.

In an interviewExternal link with Swiss newspaper Le Temps on Thursday, Leuthard said she would have had a hard time convincing men on the political right to abandon nuclear power.

“I think women are generally more sensitive to the environment and to the risks to which the population is exposed. When safety is at stake, they are willing to look at new solutions, even if it means paying a little more. They were more quickly convinced that we could opt for a new energy mix,” said Leuthard, who stepped down from the government at the end of 2018.

Only gradually did it become clear how serious the disaster was and that Switzerland had to act. On March 14 the government imposed a moratorium on nuclear projects.

“It was a decision that had to be taken quickly because, at the time, we intended to replace the three oldest [nuclear] plants with a modern, new-generation facility. We had to carry out a new risk analysis and see whether we could maintain the nuclear option in our energy policy. We informed the owners of the Swiss power plants, who had submitted applications to build this new-generation facility. It was a difficult moment, as our decision could cause them significant damage. […] I must admit that I didn’t sleep very well for two nights.”

In the end Switzerland did decide in 2011 to phase out nuclear power, which supplies about a third of the country’s electricity production.

In 2017 Swiss voters endorsed a new energy law that aims to promote renewable energy by banning new nuclear power plants and reducing energy consumption.

In December 2019 the 47-year-old Mühleberg nuclear power plant near Bern was permanently switched off – the first of five Swiss nuclear power reactors to be decommissioned. The event was considered so important that viewers could follow the progress live on Swiss television.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Switzerland, Women | Leave a comment

Swiss nuclear power station shut down, due to a technical problem

Technical problem shuts down Swiss nuclear power station, SwissInfoCh, 29 Dec 19, The Leibstadt nuclear power station in northern Switzerland has been disconnected from the power grid and shut down because of a technical fault.

Once the cause has been clarified, the plant will be put back into operation as soon as possible, the operator said. It is not clear when that will be. ……

Transducers replaced 

Two reactor shutdowns had already occurred at Leibstadt in April and May 2019. Both had the same cause. According to ENSI a malfunctioning transducer led to incorrect values in a channel of the main steam pressure measuring system. These triggered a rapid closure of the turbine inlet valves.

……Saturday’s shutdown comes a week after the 47-year-old Mühleberg nuclear power plant near Bern was permanently switched off. It was the first Swiss nuclear power reactor to be decommissioned. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/leibstadt_technical-problem-shuts-down-swiss-nuclear-power-station/45461886

December 30, 2019 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland to shut down uneconomic Mühleberg nuclear reactor

December 19, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s old Beznau nuclear power plant

October 17, 2019 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Court orders Swiss authorities to publish arms export data

Court orders Swiss authorities to publish arms export data  https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/war-materiel_court-orders-swiss-authorities-to-publish-arms-export-data/44918258 APRIL 24, 2019 Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) must give a Swiss journalist company data on arms exports.

The Federal Court rejected an appeal by SECO which had refused to transfer detailed information to a journalist from the WOZ newspaper on companies that had filed arms exports requests in 2014.

In a decision published on Wednesdayexternal link, the court backed an earlier ruling by the Federal Administrative Court on behalf of the WOZ journalist, who had filed a freedom of information request.

Last March, the Federal Administrative Court had ruled in favour of the journalist, stating that it was public interest to ensure greater transparency and information on arms exports and that the media played an important role in holding the authorities to account in this regard.

SECO had argued that, in accordance with the law on war materiel, only the parliamentary oversight committee should be sent the details on Swiss arms exports. It said that publishing details on arms exports could also displease importing countries.

However, the Federal Court said publishing such information was not a threat for Switzerland’s interests. If there is no business secret involved, SECO must publish the firms’ names.

Hot topic

Rules governing arms exports and calls for greater transparency remain a hot topic in Switzerland. In 2008 the government tightened rules on arms exports; in 2014 it relaxed them on behalf of parliament.

In October 2018 the government abandoned plans to ease Swiss weapons exports following a public outcry.

In December 2018 campaigners started collecting signatures for a people’s initiative to prevent the Swiss government from relaxing rules for exporting arms to conflict-ridden states.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Legal, media, Switzerland | Leave a comment

A nuclear accident in one of Switzerland’s old reactors would be devastating to the health of other European countries.

What a Swiss nuclear disaster could do to Europe, Swissinfo.ch , By Susan Misicka, MAY 21, 2019 – If there were to be a serious accident at one of Switzerland’s nuclear reactors, many of the radiation victims would be residents of other countries.

A Swiss-led study has calculated the potential effect of nuclear meltdowns on the health of people living nearby. Its focus is on how meteorology and geography would influence the movement of a radioactive cloud.

For example, this clip [on original] illustrates how the weather conditions on January 19, 2017 would have shaped the aftermath of an accident at the Gösgen reactor between Bern and Zurich.

The study was led by Frédéric-Paul Piguet at Institut Biosphèreexternal link, an interdisciplinary research institute in Geneva. Piguet and his team examined the accident risk at Switzerland’s five nuclear power plants, which fall between Fukushima and Chernobyl in terms of size. This includes 50-year-old Beznau I in northern Switzerland, the oldest nuclear reactor in the world.

The research team used the weather conditions throughout 2017 to calculate the fallout of disasters at the Swiss reactors and concluded that 16-24 million Europeans would be affected by a nuclear meltdown in Switzerland, which itself has a population of 8.5 million. They reckoned that 12,500-31,100 people would die on account of cancer and heart problems caused by the radiation. On top of that, there would be additional health problems, including genetic maladies and sterility.

According to the study, wet weather would nearly double the number of severe radiation-related illnesses. In 2017, there were 36 such “bad weather” days. The study is being presented in detail on Tuesday in Bern……….  https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/worst-case-scenarios_what-a-swiss-nuclear-disaster-could-do-to-europe/44977606

May 23, 2019 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s nuclear meltdown in 1969.

Historic nuclear accident dashed Swiss atomic dreams  https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/radioactive_historic-nuclear-accident-dashed-swiss-atomic-dreams/44696398  JAN 21, 2019 

Fifty years ago today, a nuclear meltdown occurred in Switzerland’s first experimental nuclear power station. Built in an underground chamber in Lucens in the western part of the country, it was the site of the worst nuclear accident in Swiss history.

The plant was opened in 1962, with the aim of not only producing energy, but also allowing Switzerland to develop a reactor bearing the “Made in Switzerland” label and enabling experiments with nuclear energy.

But these plans were pushed aside when disaster struck in the plant’s reactor cavity on January 21, 1969. A pressure tube burst which created a power surge leading to the reactor malfunctioning and an explosion. Luckily, a member of staff who was scheduled to be working on the reactor at the time was found safe and sound elsewhere. The plant’s underground design also prevented people and the environment from being harmed.

The accident’s severity registered at 5 out of a possible 7. The concentration of leaked cooling gas that was behind the door of the reactor cavity was lethal. It wasn’t even possible to measure the radioactivity because it was above the maximum level on the measuring instruments.

But the reactor cavern was not completely sealed: the radioactivity spread to the control room 100 metres away. In the machine cavern closest to the reactor, a team involved in shutting down the turbine had been exposed to radiation. A witness report said that since the decontamination showers had been out of order, the workers had to shower in a temporary facility without hot water.

The government ordered an inquiry into the incident and a report was eventually published ten years later. The Swiss Association for Atomic Energy found there had been no major negligence on the part of the plant’s managers. The cause of the incident was corrosion in a pressure tube, brought about by humidity.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | history, incidents, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Swiss Government under pressure to sign nuclear ban treaty

Government under pressure to sign nuclear ban treaty, SWISS INFO.CH DEC 12, 2018 Parliament has urged the Swiss government to ratify a United Nations accord banning nuclear arms and to submit it to a political debate for approval.The Senate on Wednesday followed the House of Representatives approving a formal call thereby overruling a government decision earlier in the year not to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Supporters said failure to sign the accord sent a negative message to the international community and undermined Switzerland’s credibility as a champion of humanitarian law………

The TPNW will enter into force when at least 50 countries ratify it. Signatories have obligations not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The agreement also prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons on national territory and assistance to any country involved in prohibited activities.

So far, 67 countries have approved the treaty and another 19 have ratified it. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/parliament_government-under-pressure-to-sign-nuclear-ban-treaty/44613098

December 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, Switzerland, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant cuts production because of hot weather

Swiss nuclear power plant forced to reduce production as warmer waters in river struggle to cool reactors  https://www.thelocal.ch/20180727/swiss-nuclear-power-plant-forced-to-reduce-production-as-warmer-waters-in-river-struggle-to-cool-reactors  The Local, news@thelocal.ch @thelocalswitzer 27 July 2018

July 28, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Malformed insects found around Swiss nuclear power plants

Abnormal bugs found around Swiss nuclear power plants http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2018/7/11/abnormal-bugs-found-around-swiss-nuclear-power-plants.html  A new study, believed to be the first to investigate health effects on insects near operating nuclear power plants, has found a highly significant twofold increase in morphological malformations on true bugs in the 5 km vicinity of three Swiss nuclear power stations.

The study — Morphological Abnormalities in True Bugs (Heteroptera) near Swiss Nuclear Power Stations — was conducted by Alfred Körblein, a physicist and authority on the health impacts of low-dose radiation, and Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, who has studied and painted insects affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. (You can read more about Hesse-Honegger’s work here.) Earlier studies on wildlife around Chernobyl and Fukushima found large and highly statistically significant incidences of radiation-induced mutation rates.  Due to its ecological design, however, the Swiss study cannot answer the question whether the effect is caused by radiation from nuclear power plants. However, given the results, the researchers are calling for future studies to confirm their findings. Read the study.

July 16, 2018 Posted by | environment, Reference, Switzerland | Leave a comment