28 March 2013

Swiss Mühleberg Reactor Gets Unlimited Operating License

On 28 March 2013, the Swiss Federal Court has ruled in favor of the operator of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant and overruled a March 2012 judgement by the Federal Administrative Court that limited the operating license to the end of June 2013 (see Switzerland: Mühleberg Reactor Likely to Close in 2013). This ruling means de facto an unlimited operating license for the 42-year old 373 MW Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), that reached first criticality on 8 March 1971 and was connected to the grid on 1 July 1971. Mühleberg is one of the five oldest reactors in the world. The Federal Court considers that the oversight activities of the national Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) is sufficient to guarantee safety. The owner BKW reportedly plans to operate the plant until 2022 and then shift to renewable energies. The anti-nuclear Alliance Nein zu neuen AKW (No to New NPPs) reacted by stating that “herewith, in a perverse way, the nuclear risk for the Swiss population after the Fukushima catastrophe is actually increasing instead of decreasing”. The fact that the two highest federal courts in the country do not agree on the interpretation of the law is seen by the Alliance as “explosive” (brisant).