Benken (Switzerland)

Map of Benken

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Benken in the canton of Zurich near the German border was selected as a
site for a HLW repository

Facilities in Benken

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
BenkenHLW storage
2002-06-20

The "national cooperative for storage of radioactive wastes" NAGRA was firstly looking for an atomic permanent disposal site in deep granite layers, covered with sediments as a second safety barrier. Since such a site was not found, the dumping of radioactive waste should now be possible in sedimentary rock (Opalinuston). For this purpose NAGRA selected Benken in canton Zurich, directly at the German border near Schaffhausen. There was found a 105 to 125 meters thick layer of Opalinuston in the depth between 400 and 900 meters under the surface, in which the radioactive waste will be dumped starting from 2020: Up to 500 cubic meters of high-radioactive garbage and 15.000 cubic meters of long-lived medium active waste. Up to then the radiating waste from the five swiss nuclear power plants should be termporarily stored in the camp near Würenlingen, which is also located at the Hochrhein.

"Who can judge, how safe the underground of Benken will be for hundredthousand years?", criticizes the federation for environment and nature protection (BUND) the plans of the Swiss atomic industry. "What will happen, if the Opalinuston dries and splits by the heat emission of the radioactive waste?" asks Axel Mayer of BUND regional association southern Oberrhein. A leaky repository at the Rheinfall would not only endanger the local groundwater, but also the Rhein as source of drinking water of millions Europeans. The entire area of Switzerland is in motion, according to environmental experts: the African mainland slides against the European one, the unfolding the alps continues and the Rheingraben will widen. "Due to the geological conditions Switzerland is completely unsuitable for such a repository", says BUND-activist Mayer. The protest against the planned burial ground in Benken is formed already at both sides the Rhein. The Swiss Bundesrat will make a decision only at the end of of 2004.