Tension in southern Germany: Switzerland announces nuclear storage location

nuclear waste

The three disposal points should be close together.

(Photo: dpa)

Bern, Hohentengen, Jestetten Communities in southern Germany are anxiously awaiting the decision Switzerland on the location of their nuclear waste repository on Monday (September 12). All three possible locations are in the immediate vicinity of the border with Baden-Württemberg.

"Of course we have fears and worries," says the mayor of Hohentengen, Martin Benz, of the German Press Agency. "Concern is the least expression." The mayor of Jestetten, Dominic Böhler, says: "You can feel the tension before the decision is made."

The nuclear waste is to be embedded in Opalinus Clay hundreds of meters below the surface of the earth. Because the possible locations are close together, all communities along the border feel affected, regardless of where exactly the camp is set up.

"With regard to nuclear risks, all locations are only a stone's throw away," says Böhler. One concern is the safety of groundwater, say both mayors.

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According to the Waldshut district administrator Martin Kistler, the population recognizes that the geological conditions in Switzerland speak in favor of a location near the border. "Against this background, we were and are ready to bear the burden of deep disposal near the border," he told the dpa. When all the documents are available, however, experts would check "whether other locations would be preferable".

Municipalities could become less attractive

For the possible location of Nördlich Lägern south of Hohentengen, discussions with the Swiss succeeded in preventing planned surface construction within sight of the German community. The district of Waldshut supports Hohentengen's demand that compensation payments be treated in the same way as Swiss communities should Nördlich Lägern be chosen. According to Benz, the train station, which may be used for transport, is only 650 meters from German residential areas.

"The question of compensation payments is definitely an issue," says Böhler. Communities could be made less attractive by the proximity of a nuclear waste disposal site, so money is needed to create incentives. "You have to be able to ensure that the region remains livable and attractive," he says.

A non-binding Swiss cost study estimated 800 million francs (824 million euros) for compensation payments. Negotiations on the distribution should begin in 2024, the spokeswoman for the Swiss Ministry of Energy (DETEC) told dpa.

The final decision on the camp is expected to be made in 2031. Storage will then begin around 2050.

More: nuclear power? No, thank you – or rather: Yes, please?

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