Swiss nuclear shutdown to cost €16.8 billion

Shutting down Switzerland's five nuclear power stations will cost about 20.7 billion Swiss francs ($22.5 billion) and take about 20 years, Swiss authorities said on Thursday.

Swiss nuclear shutdown to cost €16.8 billion
Kernkraftwerk Gösgen-Däniken AG

A study published by the Federal Office of Energy said that the cost had risen by 10.0 percent compared with a 2006 estimate.

The most expensive part of the process will be the long-term management of radioactive waste, it said.

The Swiss parliament approved a phased exit from nuclear energy at the end of September, six months after the Fukushima plant catastrophe in Japan.

Strong public opposition to nuclear led to a recommendation that Switzerland’s five reactors not be replaced when they come to the end of their operation in 2034.

A huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11th knocked out cooling systems at Fukushima, sending reactors into meltdown and leaking radiation in what was the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

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Swiss nuclear plant supplied with defective tubes

Tubes supplied by French nuclear energy giant Areva to a plant in northern Switzerland are defective and will be replaced, Swiss nuclear safety inspectors and the company said on Monday.

Swiss nuclear plant supplied with defective tubes
Leibstadt. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
“The nuclear power plant in Leibstadt informed the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (IFSN) a few days ago that some of its fuel production components did not meet specifications”, the agency said in a statement.
Areva said the problem was linked to the “sporadic dysfunction of the control system” in zirconium tubes, which are used to encase fuel rods at nuclear plants.
The company said the issue occurred at its Paimboeuf production site in Western France.
Areva said it had informed its customers that the tubes should not be used.
The IFSN said that the Leibstadt plant had already been shut down for regularly scheduled maintainance when the problem emerged, and that the site would remain closed through the end of the year while the issue was resolved.
The tubes are being replaced “for safety reasons”, the agency said.
A statement from the plant said that six tubes were deemed defective, representing less than one percent of the material in use at the site, and that “no damage” had been recorded.
“No system containing the tubes concerned demonstrated even the slightest failure so far”, Areva said.
The safety of nuclear energy has been a contentious political issue in Switzerland for years.
In a May referendum, voters backed an overhaul of the country's energy system by gradually replacing nuclear power with renewable sources.