Nuclear waste site planned on German border — Analysis

After Switzerland’s announcement, residents expressed concern about drinking water safety.

Switzerland’s plans to build a nuclear waste storage facility in an area adjacent to Germany have left communities across the border fearing for their health, according to German media.

On Saturday, Switzerland’s National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) proposed the Nordlich Laegern area as a location for the future underground radioactive waste repository. Nagra stated in a tweet that this spot is the best option because of its geology. On Monday, Nagra will explain why the cooperative chose the location in greater detail at a press conference in Bern.

If approved by the Swiss authorities and citizens, radioactive waste from the country’s five nuclear power plants as well as from medical and industrial facilities, would be buried several hundred meters underground. According to Nagra’s website, “The required confinement period for high-level, intermediate-level waste is approximately 200,000 years. It takes around 30,000 years to contain low-level or intermediate-level waste.

Japan sees no issues in radioactive water discharge

However, border communities in Germany’s Baden-Wuerttemberg region are sceptical over the assurances from Switzerland, and fear they may be left without a safe drinking water supply. According to Christian Kühn, a German MP for Baden-Wuerttemberg, the close proximity of the planned storage facility to the village of Hohentengen would pose a “Both during construction and operation of the repository were a problem.” Deutsche Welle reports.

Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment has also criticized Nagra’s plans.

One activist group in Switzerland also opposes the plan. It claims Nagra owes it explanations as to why and how the site has changed since it was first rejected.

German media reported that the approval process may take many years, despite all the panic. Nagra hopes to submit a plan application before 2024. Then the Swiss government would have to make a decision, at which point it would be the parliament’s turn to deliver its verdicts, and finally the question would be put to a referendum.

You can also find two other sites close to Germany for an underground repository of nuclear waste.

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