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Beznau controversy Complaint filed against restart of world’s oldest nuclear reactor

Protest banner against nuclear power

"Nuclear power? No thanks" - There were already protests about the restarting of Beznau on Tuesday

(Keystone)

The leftwing Social Democratic Party has lodged a complaint against the energy ministry over restarting Reactor block 1 at Beznau, the world’s oldest nuclear plant.

The ministry should reverse the decision made by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate, the party said in a statementexternal link on Thursday, calling the move “a scandal”.

It added that the Beznau plant in canton Aargau had not kept to exposure limits for years. Putting an outdated reactor back on the network was “dangerous and unreasonable”, according to the party’s deputy president Beat Jans. The authorities were not listening to local protest or the current legal proceedings on the exposure limits, the statement added.

Built in 1969, the Beznau facility in northern Switzerland, five kilometres from the German border, is the world’s oldest commercial nuclear power plant. It has been out of service since March 2015, when anomalies were found in its steam generator. 

The safety authorities said on Tuesday that the reactor presents no security risk and could be restarted. Utility company Axpo said it hoped to have the reactor fully up and running again by the end of March. There have already been protests by environmental groups.

Nuclear landscape

Beznau is one of two reactors that were shut down to check the quality of steel components used in their steam generators. The Beznau II reactor was built in 1971. 

+Read more about Switzerland’s aging nuclear plants 

Switzerland has five nuclear power reactors which generate about 34.5% of the nation’s energy needs. It uses nuclear energy to produce electricity, in research and medicine. 

In May 2017, Swiss voters endorsed a new energy law that aims to promote renewable energy by banning new nuclear power plants and reducing energy consumption.  The Mühleberg nuclear plant near Bern, built in 1972, is expected to shut down in 2019.

SDA-ATS/ilj

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