Swiss nuclear organisation targeted

31 March 2011

A suspected letter bomb has exploded in the offices of the Swiss nuclear trade organisation, swissnuclear, injuring two people. 


Police in Switzerland's Solothurn canton said that at 8.15am today, there was an explosion in swissnuclear's office on the fourth floor of a building on Froburgstrasse in the northern town of Olten. The explosion occurred as staff sorted through the day's mail.


Two female workers suffered superficial chemical injuries to their skin and their hearing was affected, the police said. Both women were taken to hospital, but are not thought to be seriously hurt. The offices have remained open. A branch of UBS bank, housed in the same building, was not affected by the explosion. The police have launched an immediate investigation into the incident.


Swissnuclear is the nuclear energy section of swisselectric, the organisation of Swiss electricity grid operators. Swissnuclear comprises representatives of the companies Alpiq, Axpo, BKW, CKW and EGL. Its members operate the Beznau, Gosgen, Leibstadt and Muhleberg nuclear power plants, which together meet some 40% of Switzerland's electricity needs.


In a statement, Axpo said that it "condemns the attack in the strongest terms. It is unfortunate and scary that people are turned into targets. Violence in a democratic society can never be a means of settling differences."


It added, "Axpo has long committed to solve the problem of future energy supply in a broad social dialogue."


Future plans on hold 


In late 2007, Axpo, Centralschweizerische Kraftwerke (CFC) and BKW FMB Energie joined forces in a new company - named Resun - to replace the Beznau and Muhleberg nuclear power plants in 2020. One year later, after Axpo had taken control of CFC as a subsidiary, Axpo and BKW filed 'framework permit applications' for the replacement. Separately Alpiq has made the same kind of application with reference to the Niederamt site. In December 2010, Axpo and BKW have been joined by Alpiq to "join forces in further pursuing the planning and construction of two new nuclear power stations."


In response to the events at the Fukushima plant in Japan earlier this month, the Swiss government, acting through the Department of Environment, Transport and Energy immediately suspended the site licensing process for replacing nuclear power plants. In November 2010, the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) had drawn up definitive appraisals for the government saying that the Niederamt, Beznau and Mühleberg sites were suitable for the purpose of building new reactors. Findings on applications were previously due in mid-2011. ENSI has now been asked to investigate safety lessons from the Fukushima incident before the approval process is resumed.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News