Radioactive Waste

Radioaktive Abfälle - Bild 1

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.

Sectoral plan

With sectoral plans the federal government coordinates tasks of national importance in a single process. For this purpose it works together with the involved cantonal and municipal authorities and takes account of their respective interests.

Type Volume [cubic metres]
(sealed, ready for
end disposal)
Volume [cubic metres]
(conditioned,
unsealed)
Share of
volumes
(sealed)
Activity [Bq]
(reference
year 2075)
Share of
radiotoxicity
Low and
intermediate-level
radioactive waste
82'832 42'707 ~ 90 % 7,9x1016 ~ 1 %
High-level
radioactive waste
9'402 1'479 ~ 10 % 1,9x1019 ~ 99 %
Total 92'234 44'186      

Waste in accordance with the 2016 waste disposal programme, scenario 2b (60-year service life of existing nuclear power plants; Mühleberg, 47 years)

FAQ

Warum müssen die radioaktiven Abfälle zum heutigen Zeitpunkt entsorgt werden? Wäre es nicht besser zu warten, bis das Entsorgungsproblem mit neuen Technologien (z. B. Transmutation) gelöst werden kann?

Wäre eine langfristige Lagerung an der Oberfläche nicht die bessere Lösung?

Wie gross und schwer ist ein einzelner Brennstab?

Wie gehen andere Länder mit radioaktiven Abfällen um?

Könnten die Abfälle nicht gemeinsam mit anderen Ländern entsorgt werden?

Arbeitet die Schweiz international mit anderen Ländern zusammen?

Warum wird keine internationale Lösung gesucht?

Können in geologischen Tiefenlagern in der Schweiz auch Abfälle aus Deutschland eingelagert werden?

Warum befinden sich alle verbliebenen Standorte für geologische Tiefenlager direkt an der deutschen Grenze?

Darf die Schweiz dort entsorgen, wo deutsches Gebiet betroffen ist? Erfolgt der Transport über deutsches Gebiet?


Specialist staff
Last modification 10.11.2020

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