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Pro-environment groups want vote on nuclear energy phase-out

Pro-environment groups have presented Switzerland’s federal administration with two people’s initiatives aimed at phasing out nuclear energy.

This content was published on September 28, 1999 - 17:45

Pro-environment groups have presented Switzerland’s federal administration with two people’s initiatives aimed at phasing out nuclear energy.

Organisers of the “Electricity without Nuclear Plants” and “Moratorium Plus” initiatives presented the federal chancellery with a total of more than 240,000 signatures to pave the way for a national vote on the controversial issue.

The two initiatives are supported by the Social Democrats, which are represented in the Swiss government, the Greens and 37 national and regional environmental organisations.

“Electricity without Nuclear Plants” wants Switzerland’s five nuclear power plants to be shut down within a decade. The reprocessing of spent fuel rods would also be abandoned.

The “Moratorium Plus” initiative calls for a 10-year extension of the current construction moratorium for nuclear plants. Organisers also want to be able to call a national vote if a nuclear plant’s life is to exceed 40 years.

Politicians and environmentalists who support the proposed shift in Switzerland’s energy policy say that a phase-out of nuclear power and its gradual substitution by sustainable energy resources can be achieved.

In fact, organisers argue, the shift could help create tens of thousands of new jobs.

The anti-nuclear groups also say that a significant amount of energy is still being wasted: 20 percent of energy going into lighting and electric heating could be saved, they say.

However, the Association of Electricity Generating Plants and pro-nuclear groups strongly criticised the two initiatives and described them as out of touch with modern-day energy concepts.

Anti-nuclear groups still had not explained what kind of energy would replace the nuclear power plants, the association said.

Advocates of nuclear energy also said that it went against the grain to phase out a technology which was clean and did not contribute to global warming.

Nuclear plants generate 40 percent of electricity consumed in Switzerland each year.

From staff and wire reports.

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