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Mitholz report Alpine ammunition storage site deemed intolerable

View of rock demolition site at Mitholz

The rock face (centre) is the result of an explosion at the underground ammuntion storage facility of Mitholz in 1947. 

(© Keystone/Gaetan Bally)

The government environment agency has confirmed that a former ammunition stockpile in the Swiss Alps is an unacceptable risk for the local population.

A report by the Federal Office for the Environmentexternal link, published on Monday, endorses an assessment by the defence ministry from last year.

It concluded that the about 3,500 tonnes of ammunition and several hundred tonnes of explosives stored at an underground site of Mitholz in the Bernese Oberland are a bigger danger than previously assumed.

The defence ministry said it was reassuring to read the findings of the report that was commissioned by the ministry while it reinforced monitoring of the stockpile with video and thermal cameras as well as gas detectors.

It also set up an expert panel to study possible scenarios to eliminate or reduce the risk of explosion.

The local population has called for the site from the Second World War to be cleared.

The Mitholz site was the scene of a tragedy in 1947, when the depot, which consisted of six rooms under a mountain connected by a trans-alpine railway tunnel, exploded and killed nine people.

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