Government proposes ban on reprocessing nuclear waste abroad

The Swiss government has proposed a ban on reprocessing nuclear waste abroad, and says a new law should also determine whether to lay down a time-limit for the lifespan of nuclear power plants.

This content was published on March 6, 2000 - 17:54

The Swiss government has proposed a ban on reprocessing nuclear waste abroad, and says a new law should also determine whether to lay down a time-limit for the lifespan of nuclear power plants.

At its weekly cabinet meeting in Berne, the government decided to launch a wide-ranging consultation process on a draft law regulating these issues. It is asking all parties concerned to give their opinions on the proposals by June 15.

The energy minister, Moritz Leuenberger, said the government had decided to leave open the question of whether to limit the lifespan of nuclear power stations. He said the other option was to let the plants operate as long as they were considered safe.

Leuenberger said the advantage of laying down a deadline was that it would make planning easier. On the other hand, he said, nuclear plants produce energy without emissions of greenhouse gases.

The draft law also foresees a ban on reprocessing nuclear waste, whether in Switzerland and abroad. It would also forbid transporting nuclear material containing plutonium by air.

As far as the storage of nuclear waste is concerned, the government has backed the recommendations made in February by a commission of experts. Under these proposals, waste would not be placed in permanent storage, but placed under conditions in which it can be monitored and removed if necessary.

Finally, the government's draft law also proposes allowing a referendum to be called on each new decision to build a nuclear power station.

The draft is seen as a counter-proposal to two initiatives against nuclear power. One calls for another ten-year moratorium on building new power stations, to replace the current one when it expires this year, while the second initiative calls for all nuclear plants to be closed down by 2015.

From staff and wire reports

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