Disposal facilities Living next to a nuclear waste dump – and liking it

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How a village in Aargau copes with hosting a storage facility for nuclear waste. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

Switzerland is planning deep geological repositories to store nuclear waste as it can be radioactive for thousand of years.

But first nuclear waste goes through interim storage facilities where will be kept for up to 50 years. Zwilag is one of these facilities and it has been located since 2001 in Würenlingen, a municipality in the canton of Aargau.

Zwilag’s plants process radioactive waste and spent fuel rods. Heat emitted by the decay of radioactive waste is constantly monitored. After around 40 years, after the radioactive waste has cooled down, it will be moved to the planned long-term storage facilities.

Under Swiss law the responsibility for disposing of radioactive waste is borne by its producers. So nuclear power operators must dispose of waste produced in nuclear power plants, and the state is responsible for managing waste from the healthcare and research sector.

The National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste, Nagra, is coordinating plans for the disposal of low/intermediate and high level radioactive waste. Their proposals for deep geological repositories first have to be approved by the government in 2017 and are expected to be operational by 2060.