Energy Swiss nuke protest May 2011

Published on May 25th, 2011 | by Rhonda Winter


Switzerland Abandons Nuclear Power

Swiss nuke protest May 2011

The Swiss government just voted on Wednesday to abandon nuclear power in their country; their last reactor will finally go offline in 2034. The nation’s five remaining nuclear power plants will slowly be phased out, and no new reactors will be built. The government had already suspended approval for three new nuclear power stations in March, due to safety concerns.

Public confidence in the feasibility of nuclear energy has utterly collapsed since the nuclear meltdown disaster in Japan. Support for nuclear power is plummeting across Europe; earlier this year already Germany also decided to reject nuclear, and has accelerated the shuttering of a number of its aged reactors.

The Swiss government’s decision may also have been impacted by the huge anti-nuclear protests that happened in the country earlier in the week. Over 20,000 people protested against nuclear power in Switzerland on Sunday; the demonstration was the largest anti-nuclear power march since the eighties.

The massive crowds peacefully demonstrated near the Beznau nuclear power plant in the northern canton state of Aargau. The Beznau plant is one of the country’s oldest nuclear plants, and will be one of the first to be dismantled.

Nuclear is No Longer Economically Viable

The government has structured a lengthy transition time to phase out nuclear in order to give Switzerland time to develop sustainable energy sources and invest in more clean energy research. In a public statement, the Swiss Cabinet explained that it was responding to the desires of the Swiss people to reduce risks:

โ€œ…in the face of the severe damage that the earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima caused.โ€

The statement went on to say that the reality was that the hidden costs of nuclear power, the many devastating dangers associated with it, as well as new stricter regulations, means that soon nuclear simply will no longer be economically viable:

“…long-term, nuclear energy was expected to lose its competitive advantage over renewable sources of energy because the costs associated with nuclear power, such as for new safety standards and equipment, are expected to climb.”

The European Union is now planning new safety tests and stricter regulations for the remaining 143 operating nuclear reactors that still continue to operate in the region.

image is by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP Getty Images via NPR

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7 Responses to Switzerland Abandons Nuclear Power

  1. zshahan3 says:

    Wow, this is some big news! (Not as big as when Germany announced the same, but could help get a domino effect rolling.) Japan is also going to focus on renewable energy instead of nuclear now. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. rhondawinter says:

    It seems that the some of the long term hidden costs of nuclear power are finally beginning to come to light, from the tremendous expense of โ€œsafelyโ€ storing billions of tons of toxic waste for thousands of years, to devastating reactor meltdown catastrophes that can turn entire regions into deadly poisonous wastelands. No doubt that future generations will look back on our misguided foray into nuclear energy with bemused confusion and utter bewilderment.

  3. LornaLi says:

    Great post, Rhonda.

    Switzerland has the grassroots backing, and the financial stability to be able to make such a decision.

    I wonder how long it will take for other ‘neutral’ countries to follow suit?

    Lorna Li

    Editor in Chief

  4. rhondawinter says:

    @LornaLi I believe that we are on the cusp of a fundamental paradigm shift in relation to nuclear power on this planet. Fukushima seems to have been the horrific wake up call that we needed to finally realize that the economics of nuclear just do not work. It comes down to dollars and cents and dwindling resources. The potential financial liability of nuclear energy will force all “neutral” countries to soon abandon dangerous reactors and invest in more affordable and sustainable sources of energy, such as solar and wind.

  5. zshahan3 says:

    @LornaLi with Germany going nuke-free, Japan making a 180 on nuclear energy, italy & denmark already nuke-free, and the pure fact that nuclear isn’t viable economically, i hope & think it won’t take long — but never underestimate human stupidity …nice pun on ‘neutral’ ๐Ÿ˜€

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