Back and forth in the Swiss nuclear debate

08 September 2011

A Senate committee in Switzerland has drafted three new texts on nuclear power policy, all of them explicitly keeping the technology available and banning only 'current generation' designs. 


The texts are the latest versions of cabinet proposals that originally sought to ban construction of any new nuclear power reactors. Three texts to this effect were approved by the National Council in June. Those moved on to the Senate, where a committee yesterday produced new versions which, crucially, would only ban construction of reactors like those currently in use - and not the latest models.


All the new-build options on the table for Switzerland referred to Generation-III reactor designs, which include more recent design principles and safety features than the current Generation-II designs that make up the bulk of the global reactor fleet.


The three new wordings will face a Senate vote, expected on 28 September, and then be sent back to the National Council for a new debate and vote there.


Whatever new build policy the two houses eventually decide on, the cabinet would then draft enacting legislation that will again have to survive debate and votes in both houses. The overall process may also require a public referendum as a constitutional matter. Complicating things further is the fact that a general election takes place on 23 October, positioning energy and nuclear safety issues as a campaign topic.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News