Switzerland's Beznau nuclear plant will soon boast the "dubious record" of being the oldest nuclear plant in the world and should be shut down, a group of environmental organisations said on Thursday.

"/> Switzerland's Beznau nuclear plant will soon boast the "dubious record" of being the oldest nuclear plant in the world and should be shut down, a group of environmental organisations said on Thursday.

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NUCLEAR

Swiss environmentalists want nuclear plant shut

Switzerland's Beznau nuclear plant will soon boast the "dubious record" of being the oldest nuclear plant in the world and should be shut down, a group of environmental organisations said on Thursday.

Swiss environmentalists want nuclear plant shut
Roland Zumbühl

The 15 organisations which include WWF Switzerland, Greenpeace, Fokus Anti-Atom and various chapters of the Green Party, noted that Oldbury in England, inaugurated in 1967, will shut down next week.

They said Beznau should also be shut down.

“Many security problems show that Beznau has run its course,” said the organizations in a joint statement about the nuclear plant that began operating in 1969.

They said there are cracks in the mantle of the reactor and in the steel containment shell, something strongly denied by Axpo, the energy company that operates Beznau.

“As a precaution the lid of the reactor is to be changed, but there is no crack,” said an Axpo spokeswoman.

Beznau is scheduled for decommissioning in 2019 after 50 years of operation.

Last September, the Swiss Parliament approved a nuclear phase-out for the country’s five nuclear reactors, due to be decommissioned by 2034.

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NUCLEAR

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.