Impressive career of Dr. Piet Zuidema recognised

Dr. Piet Zuidema, long-time member of Nagra’s Executive Board, was bid a formal farewell with a seminar held in Zurich. The event was attended by many guests from both Switzerland and abroad.

Many colleagues from the scientific and technical community from both Switzerland and abroad took up the invitation to the farewell seminar in Zürich. This came as no surprise – with his extensive technical knowledge in the area of radioactive waste disposal, Piet Zuidema is in demand not only in Switzerland but also further afield. Thomas Ernst, Chief Executive Officer of Nagra, was the first to pay tribute to his remarkable work: “Piet Zuidema is THE knowledge-bearer of Nagra in all areas of radioactive waste management. He has actively shaped our organisation for more than 30 years”. With his doctorate in engineering, he was responsible, for around 20 of these 30 years, for the technical and scientific aspects of the Swiss deep disposal programme. Before the long-time member of the Executive Board retired at the end of 2017, and after giving up his line management function at the end of 2015, he held the position of overall project manager for the second stage of the Swiss Sectoral Plan for Deep Geological Repositories. He will continue to support also Nagra as an external technical adviser.

“During Piet Zuidema’s career, Nagra reached many important milestones”, explained Thomas Ernst, mentioning in particular the demonstration of disposal feasibility for high-level waste – the so-called “Entsorgungsnachweis HAA”. Piet Zuidema’s responsibility was to prepare the project reports for submission to the federal authorities. He enjoyed a close collaboration with Swiss universities such as the University of Bern and the ETH Zurich, as well as with research institutes such as the Paul Scherrer Institute. He was also a member of the “Radioactive Waste Management Committee” of the OECD/NEA and was active as an adviser in expert bodies of several foreign waste management organisations.

Besides Thomas Ernst, speeches were also delivered by other key representatives of the nuclear waste management field in Switzerland and Europe (see box). They looked back at their collaboration with Piet Zuidema and lent a very personal note to the event. Piet Zuidema began his closing address with the words: “I would like to thank you all most warmly for the great appreciation, support and excellent collaboration I have experienced over the years”. In his retrospective, he focused not on himself but on all the colleagues who had made his work possible and supported him throughout.

Speakers at the farewell seminar

  • Dr. Philipp Hänggi, Head Nuclear & Coal, BKW Energie AG
  • Dr. Thomas Ernst, Chief Executive Officer of Nagra
  • Dr. Hans Wanner, Director of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI)
  • Dr. Claes Thegerström, former President of the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB)
  • Dr. Frédéric Plas, Director R&D Division, Agence Nationale pour la gestion des déchets radioactifs (ANDRA)
  • Prof. Dr. Sergey Churakov, Professor of Mineralogy, University of Bern, Institute for Geology; Head of the Laboratory for Waste Management, Paul Scherrer Institute
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Mazurek, Professor of Geochemistry and Applied Geology, University of Bern, Institute for Geology
  • Prof. Dr. Simon Löw, Professor of Engineering Geology, ETH Zurich; President Expert Group on Deep Geological Disposal (EGT)
  • Dr. Piet Zuidema, long-time member of the Executive Board of Nagra