Surface infrastructure for deep geological repositories

Nagra’s proposals as the basis for discussing further collaboration with the regions

Where and what type of buildings and accesses for a deep geological repository will be constructed in the future? These are the questions Nagra is addressing together with the potential siting regions. Nagra has now presented proposals which will serve as a basis for discussing further collaboration with the regions.

In Switzerland, the Nuclear Energy Act stipulates that radioactive waste must be disposed of in a deep geological repository. To construct and operate the repository, structures are also needed at the earth’s surface. Where the elements of this surface infrastructure will be located is being worked on by Nagra together with the potential siting regions. In Stage 2 of the three-stage Sectoral Plan process led by the Federal Government, the approximate location of the surface facility was determined. From there, the radioactive waste is transported into the deep geological repository via the main access.

In the ongoing Stage 3, the surface infrastructure must now be further developed together with the siting regions. Aside from the surface facility, the infrastructure mainly includes operational and ventilation shafts. Nagra has developed two to four proposals for each of the three potential siting regions, which show where the different elements of the infrastructure could be placed. The proposals are the result of previous collaboration with the regions. Based on the decision of the Federal Council on Stage 2, Nagra is also considering sites for an encapsulation plant for spent fuel assemblies outside of the siting regions.

“Our proposals form the basis for further collaboration with the regions and Cantons”, explains Markus Fritschi, Nagra’s Division Head Collaboration Sectoral Plan & Public Outreach, adding that the regions can now discuss which variant, in their opinion, can best be integrated into the region. They can also bring forward their own proposals. The responses from the regions are expected by 2021 and will form the basis for the further concretisation of the projects by Nagra. Nagra is expected to announce in 2022 which siting region it considers best suited for a deep geological repository. By 2024, Nagra will concretise this decision together with the relevant region and submit a general licence application.

The proposals can be viewed on Nagra’s website at (in German). For further information, please contact: Patrick Studer, Head of Nagra’s Media Office: 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.