Nagra deep boreholes from 2019

Search for repository sites: Deep boreholes to provide decisive findings from 2019

From the beginning of 2019, Nagra will carry out further investigations in the siting regions Jura Ost, Nördlich Lägern and Zürich Nordost using deep boreholes. Preparatory work is planned from autumn 2018. The additional information available from the boreholes will allow Nagra to announce, in around 4 years, the sites for which a general licence application will be submitted.

Nagra is planning a series of deep boreholes in the three potential siting regions Jura Ost, Nördlich Lägern and Zürich Nordost. The borehole campaign will start at the beginning of 2019 and will focus inter alia on investigating the thickness, permeability and composition of the Opalinus Clay host rock in which the repository will be constructed. The confining units above and below the Opalinus Clay are also of interest. The purpose of the deep boreholes is to complete the overall geological picture of the siting regions. They will supplement geological investigations that have already been carried out, such as 3D seismic measurements. Based on the additional findings from the boreholes, Nagra expects to be able to announce, probably around 2022, the sites for which it will submit a general licence application. Drilling will be done with two electrically powered drilling rigs. A third rig may be rented at a later stage to allow simultaneous drilling at a maximum of three locations.

Nagra has submitted 22 applications for deep boreholes to the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). The first decisions of DETEC on granting of the permits are expected during summer 2018. The decision on which boreholes will be drilled first will be made when the first permits have been granted. How many boreholes will actually have to be implemented to complete the overall geological picture depends on the initial results from the boreholes. It is however unlikely that 22 boreholes will be required. Construction of the first drill sites is planned for autumn 2018 and actual drilling activities will begin from the start of 2019.

Nagra is planning to hold a media conference in autumn 2018 to provide further details on the deep boreholes and the planned investigations.

More information
Patrick Studer
Head Media Service Nagra
076 579 36 50

According to Swiss nuclear energy legislation, the producers of radioactive waste are responsible for its safe management and disposal. In 1972, the Federal Government and the nuclear power plant operators set up the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) to perform this task. Nagra, which has its headquarters in Wettingen (AG), is the national technical competence centre in the field of deep geological disposal of radioactive waste.

Out of a strong sense of responsibility for the long-term protection of man and the environment, 120 employees are involved daily in performing this important work. The high level of competence is secured by targeted research programmes in two Swiss underground rock laboratories and intensive international collaboration.