Monday, February 2, 2015

All Quiet on the Southern Front?

Although it was the weekend of the vote on Freiburg's new stadium the Badische Zeitung titled its Saturday edition: Atomendlager am Hochrhein (Permanent atomic disposal site on the Upper Rhine), in other words, the monster had resurfaced.

Since I last informed you about the topic in April 2014 it had all been quiet on the southern front until last Friday. On January 30, 2015, the Swiss Federal Office for Energy told the press that following its investigation into possible sites for the permanent storage of high level radioactive waste which had started in 2008 they had eventually homed in on two sites located on the Upper Rhine.

©Badische Zeitung
The Zürcher Weinland south of Schaffhausen and the East Jura (Bözberg) in the Canton Aargau are favored because of their suitable geological formation. As the next step the NAGRA (National association for the storage of radioactive waste) will perform extensive geological drilling. By 2020 it shall define the two sites more precisely and apply for permission to store high level radioactive material. The government in Berne will decide about permission in 2027 followed by a debate in parliament and a popular vote. What will happen if the people decide against the proposal? I do not know. Red Baron will no longer be concerned.

The people of South Baden are scared: It is now clear that all radioactive waste from Switzerland will be disposed of near the German border. Some ask for a European solution claiming that better storage sites may be found elsewhere. However, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and do you really think that any country in Europe will accept Swiss radioactivity in its backyard?

While the Swiss are already stepped to the plate (die Schweizer machen bereits Nägel mit Köpfen) the German commission for the Standortfindung will have time until the end of this year to find a consensus on a site in Germany for the final disposal of high level radioactive waste. Rumors have it that the site selected may be located on the Upper Rhine on the German side of the border, geological formation oblige. Will we find a tunnel connecting the two underground storage sites one day?

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