Nuclear power provides 40 percent of Switzerland’s electricity, but the Swiss have had a somewhat fraught relationship with nuclear energy. In 1984, a referendum on ‘a future without further nuclear power stations’ was defeated 55 to 45 percent. In September 1990, a referendum on the phasing out of nuclear power was defeated 53 to 47 percent but a referendum placing a 10-year construction moratorium on nuclear plants passed 55 to 45 percent. In May 2003, a referendum on ‘electricity without atoms’ was defeated 66 to 34 percent. More surprisingly, a referendum to extend the construction moratorium held at the same time was also defeated 58 to 42 percent. Finally, in May 2011, following the Fukushima accident, the government decided that the fi ve operating reactors would not be replaced at the end of their operating lives (van Berg and Damveld 2000, p. 80). 1

Unlike most other countries, the Swiss federal government has gone some way toward defi ning an ‘affected community’ by empowering people living more than 12 miles from a proposed nuclear facility – a fact maybe less remarkable when the Swiss confederation’s long tradition of direct public involvement in the political decision-making process is taken into account. As a result, many have regularly made use of their right to participate in the consultation process for nuclear installation licensing. This, combined with a dense population, meant that a siting authority could expect signifi cant ‘local’ interest when it came to choose a radioactive waste disposal site. 2

The Atomic Law of 23 December 1959 gave licensing and supervisory authority over radioactive waste storage facilities to the federal government. A 6 October 1978 amendment to the Law declared that producers were responsible for safe radioactive waste disposal but the federal government retained the right, if necessary, to dispose of such waste at the producers’ expense. Management of radioactive waste is regulated by the Radiation Protection Law of 22 March 1991 and the Radiation Protection Ordinance of 22 June 1994 (Expert Group for Disposal Concepts for Radioactive Waste [EKRA] 2000, p. 21). Swiss law requires that all radioactive waste be disposed of in repositories that do not depend on active institutional control to provide the necessary level of safety,

a requirement that demands deep underground burial (Kowalski and Fritschi 1999, p. 115). For low and intermediate level waste (LILW), this is unusual because most countries prefer the less expensive, less geologically dependent and, as a result, less controversial options of shallow land disposal or aboveground vault disposal. This is a function of several factors, including population density, the importance of tourism to the Swiss economy and a determination by siting authorities that “even a small amount of geological barrier brings enormous safety advantages” (Dr. Charles McCombie and Linda McKinley, personal communication, 16 October 2014). This has also made the low level radioactive waste (LLRW) disposal facility siting process more complex, both technically and politically, than the other case studies examined in this book.