The aim behind the Waste Disposal Fund is to secure the costs for the disposal of nuclear waste and spent fuel elements following the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant. The most important cost components are containers for transport and storage, transport, reprocessing and disposal of spent fuel elements, central waste treatment and interim storage, and the end storage of radioactive waste in two deep geological repositories. The proprietors of the five nuclear power plants in Switzerland (Beznau 1 and 2, Mühleberg, Gösgen and Leibstadt) are obliged to pay annual contributions into this fund.
With effect from 1 February 2008, the existing ordinances and regulations for the two funds were combined into a single ordinance (Swiss Federal Ordinance on the Decommissioning Fund and the Waste Disposal Fund). Here the most important change was the increase of the assumed operating life of nuclear power plants from 40 to 50 years. This forms the basis for calculating the costs associated with decommissioning and waste disposal, and for specifying the contributions to be paid into the two funds. The new assumed operating life has no connection with the actual operating life of nuclear power plants or with fundamental energy-policy decisions concerning the continued use of nuclear energy in Switzerland. The decommissioning and waste disposal costs were recalculated within the scope of studies (see "Related documents" below) on the basis of the new calculation criteria.
The amount of required contributions to the Disposal Fund is based on the anticipated disposal costs, which according to the latest calculations will be approximately 16 billion Swiss francs (pricing basis, 2011). As of the end 2010, 4.8 billion Swiss francs had been spent (e.g. for research and preparatory tasks, reprocessing of spent fuel elements, construction of a central interim storage facility, acquisition of transport and storage containers). Another portion (amounting to 2.7 billion Swiss francs) will be required from 2011 until the time of decommissioning, and this amount has to be covered by the operators on an ongoing basis. The fund has to secure 8.4 billion Swiss francs. The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) is currently verifying these figures in collaboration with external experts.