Independence confirmed of nuclear watchdog

Anne Eckhardt, president of the Ensi board, and Werner Bühlmann, member of the Ensi board, during a media conference in Bern Keystone

The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (Ensi) is independent and not influenced by Nagra, the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste. This is the verdict of an external inquiry carried out for Ensi.

This content was published on December 3, 2012 - 17:11 and agencies

Nevertheless, internal procedures should be optimised, according to the report, published on Monday.

“The Ensi board has full confidence in the Ensi management and staff,” said Anne Eckhardt, president of the Ensi board.

The result, she added, showed that the watchdog could perform its function effectively.

“No evidence was found that Nagra manipulated the sectoral plan process,” the report said.

Nuclear waste

Ensi is responsible for the supervision of Swiss nuclear facilities: the nuclear power stations, the interim storage facility for radioactive waste, the nuclear research facilities at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, the Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne and the University of Basel.

Its regulatory remit covers the entire life of a facility, from initial planning, through operation to final decommissioning including the disposal of radioactive waste. Its remit also includes the safety of staff and the public and their protection from radiation, sabotage and terrorism.

Ensi is also involved in the transport of radioactive materials to and from nuclear facilities and in the continuing geoscientific investigations to identify a suitable location for the deep geological disposal of radioactive waste.

Nagra was given the task in 1972 of finding a permanent solution to the storage of radioactive waste.

Mandated by the government and nuclear power plant operators, its projects regularly come up against local opposition.

On its website Nagra says its mandate is clear: “radioactive waste arising in Switzerland has to be disposed of in a way that ensures the long-term protection of man and the environment”.

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