There is nothing to shake about it: it is imperative that our society addresses the issue of nuclear waste disposal. Without ifs and buts. According to the assessment accepted by the majority today, the path proposed by the Commission on Radioactive Waste Disposal Concepts (EKRA) in 2000 seems to be the only one that is currently feasible and thus realistic: deep geological disposal with the option of retrievability. On this basis, the Swiss Nuclear Energy Act was passed in parliament in 2003 and came into force in February 2005. And on this basis, in turn, the “Deep Geological Repository” sectoral plan (SGT) was developed – the Swiss site selection procedure.
After about a third of the way through the process, however, one has to ask where the journey is going. Let’s take a brief look back: The project started with great expectations and the conviction, also propagated internationally at every opportunity, that it had initiated an exemplary site selection procedure. Halfway through the second stage of the sectoral plan, however, disillusionment set in. After two narrowing stages, the “white map of Switzerland” was found where it had already been before with Nagra’s internal memo AN11-711, which became public in October 2012: in the Zürcher Weinland, in Nördlich Lägern and in Bözberg in Aargau. In terms of lack of surprise, this procedure can hardly be surpassed.
The procedure chosen and implemented by the officially entrusted institutions therefore arouses doubts and mistrust. The present platform “nuclearwaste.info” has therefore set itself the goal of closely monitoring the work of nuclear waste management in Switzerland. And not only at the level of procedure or political reception. It seems equally important to us to think through and further develop strategic programmes and decisions, and to carry out scientific groundwork that is not being done elsewhere. This work should also contribute to a critical review of the specific disposal programmes of Nagra, the work of the safety authorities and the advisory commissions and the process leader, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.
It seems urgent to us to examine the procedure for site selection. On the one hand, there is certainly the report roller that fell and continues to fall on the cantons and sites. On the other hand, above all, the quality of the strategic decisions in the narrowing down process, such as questions as to whether a site selection is possible at all without specifying construction concepts, or why previously known geological weak points in the selected siting regions were not specifically investigated. But it will not stop there: it is just as important to show what strategic, planning and scientific work is involved in a robust radioactive waste management programme and how such decisions are reached. In short, not only to criticise, but also to point out the ways in which things can be done more wisely, better and perhaps even more economically. This also concerns the question of future structures in the Swiss waste management programme, as well as supervisory functions, process management and the involvement of the regional and local population.