Radioactive waste is produced every day in Switzerland, mainly through electricity production at the country’s four nuclear power plants, but also from the dismantling of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant. A certain amount is also produced in the medical, industrial and research sectors. A distinction is made between high-level and low and intermediate-level radioactive waste. By 2075, approximately 90,000 cubic metres will have been produced (cf. table below). Around 90 percent of nuclear waste in Switzerland is in the low and intermediate-level category, the bulk of which will be produced when the existing nuclear power plants are dismantled. Depending on the category, radioactive waste has to be safely stored for periods of several tens of thousands to a million years until it no longer poses a threat to human beings and the environment. At present, radioactive waste is being stored in secure halls above ground. These halls are located on the premises of the nuclear power plants themselves and at two central interim storage sites in the canton of Aargau (cf. photo at top of page: interim storage facility).
Swiss law stipulates that over the long term radioactive waste is to be securely stored in deep geological repositories. The process for identifying suitable storage sites has been under way since 2008 in line with a sectoral plan. The choice of sites is expected to be finalised in 2031.