Sep 13 2022 05:45 a.m
Residents of the Waldshut district in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which borders Switzerland, are raising concerns about drinking water safety after Switzerland announced plans to build a nuclear waste repository there near the border with Germany.
According to media reports, Switzerland’s plans to build a repository for nuclear waste in an area bordering Germany have led to German communities in Baden-Württemberg near the Swiss border fearing for their health.
Die National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) last Saturday created an area called “North of Laegern” as the site for the future deep repository for radioactive waste. Nagra argued that this location was the safest option due to the nature of its geology. Nagra would explain in detail its reasons for choosing the site at a press conference, it said in the message.
With the consent of the Swiss authorities and citizens, radioactive waste from the five nuclear power plants in Switzerland and from medical and industrial facilities would be stored several hundred meters underground in the future. According to Nagra’s website, the required storage time is around 200,000 years for high-level radioactive waste and around 30,000 years for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.
However, border communities in the Baden-Württemberg region are skeptical about the assurances from Switzerland and fear that they could become a reality without a secure and clean drinking water supply. According to the Baden-Württemberg member of the Bundestag Christian Kuehn (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) would be the immediate proximity of the planned repository to the German community Hohentengen on the High Rhine a problem both during the construction phase and during operation as a repository, reports the German wave. The Federal Ministry for the Environment has already criticized Nagra’s plans.
But there is also resistance to the plans in Switzerland itself. A group of opponents of the repository claim that Nagra still owes the public an explanation as to why it rejected this site as unsuitable in the past and why it has now changed its mind on the matter. “Nagra apparently evaluated the criteria differently in the middle of the process,” says Astrid Andermatt, a former member of the Aargau parliament who has been with the association for years Nord Lägern without repository (LoTi) committed. “That seems dubious.”
Despite the excitement here and there: According to the German media, the approval process for the construction of the repository could take decades. Nagra intends to submit an application for general approval by 2024. Then the Swiss Federal Council would first have to make a decision, which is expected for 2029. Parliament would then have its say and finally there would probably be a referendum. But even if the Swiss finally agree to the construction of the repository, it will still be at least 2050 before the first waste can be stored there. And the start of construction is not expected before 2045.
Two alternative sites proposed by Nagra for a possible underground repository are also close to the German border.