Groundwater protection must be ensured at all times

Groundwater is currently a matter of debate, as the Swiss daily newspaper “Tages-Anzeiger” reports. Groundwater protection is important to Nagra. Other environmental aspects must also be considered.

Today, Switzerland’s leading daily newspaper, the “Tages-Anzeiger”, reported on discussions related to groundwater. We are aware of how important this topic is and that it is a matter of public concern. The protection of the groundwater, and particularly the drinking-water, must be ensured at all times.

By taking corresponding measures, it is possible to construct above groundwater. All Swiss nuclear power plants, the interim storage facility in Würenlingen and many chemical facilities have been built above groundwater and have been operating safely for decades. The groundwater protection zones (where drinking-water production facilities are located) and groundwater protection areas (protection zones with regard to future groundwater management) that are of particular importance to drinking-water protection are strictly avoided. Aside from groundwater protection, other criteria such as environmental aspects and site development play an important role in the placement of surface facilities.

As opposed to a deep geological repository, surface facilities are not a novelty. For decades, radioactive waste has been routinely repackaged and treated at the surface – both in Switzerland and abroad. Compared to other nuclear installations in Switzerland, the potential risk associated with a surface facility is very low.

We welcome the fact that the Swiss Federal Office of Energy wishes to bring together the authorities, Cantons and Nagra at a round table to discuss and ideally resolve the conflicting viewpoints. We are currently preparing for this discussion and will again outline why we are convinced that a surface facility can also be safely constructed and operated above groundwater.

Cover photo: maaars, Zürich