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Switzerland experiences historic nuclear shutdown


Sudhir Chaudhary

26th December, 2019
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historic nuclear shutdown

A historic nuclear shut down was seen in a nuclear power plant in Switzerland.

A nuclear shut down was seen as the 47-year-old Mühleberg nuclear power plant, near Bern, was permanently switched off.

This is the first of five Swiss nuclear power reactor to be decommissioned. This stopped the chain reaction and deactivated the reactor.

The process took three seconds. The event was considered so important in Switzerland that viewers could follow the progress live on television.

Cameras showed a close-up as the red buttons were switched off. There were a few tense moments as everything was checked.

“The reactor is now off,” said the manager, Roland Bönzli. The pressure in the reactor will be steadily reduced and water temperature is due to drop from 280 degrees Celsius to less than 100C.

Situated around 15 kilometers from the Swiss capital Bern, the reactor has been in service since 1972 and provided 5% of the electricity used in Switzerland.

BKW, the operator of Mühleberg plant, decided to close the plant in 2013 for business reasons. BKW said that it was “organisationally and financially well prepared for its largest project since the construction of [Mühleberg] about 50 years ago”.

It added that the site had generated enough electricity to cover the energy consumption of Bern for more than 100 years.

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The plant will be completely decommissioned by 200 people over a 15-year period, starting on January 6, 2020.

The dismantling and destruction of equipment used for producing electricity, such as turbines, generators and condensers, will continue until October 2020.

The central building will then be prepared for the dismantling, decontamination and packaging of material.

By 2024 all nuclear fuel rods will have been transported to the central interim storage facility for high-level radioactive waste in Würenlingen in northern Switzerland.

According to the operator, 98% of the radioactivity will have left the Mühleberg nuclear power plant. Spent uranium rods will remain on site for a few years.

BKW says radioactivity will be eliminated from the Mühleberg site by 2031. It is expected to cost CHF1.4 billion ($1.4 billion) to totally dismantle the plant and manage the radioactive waste.

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