27 Jun (NucNet): Swiss utility BKW has been given approval for the decommissioning of the single-unit Mühleberg nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to permanently shut down on 20 December 2019.
The approval, from the country’s Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication, says decommissioning work must be carried out in accordance with a plan submitted by BKW in 2015 and under conditions set by the safety authority ENSI.
Permission has already been given for post-production operations with the unloading of all irradiated fuel into the storage pool.
BKW still needs to submit plans, by the end of 2027, for the conventional dismantling of the facility, comprising the demolition of all buildings and installations on the site. This will take place from 2032 to 2034.
Decommissioning itself, which has now been approved, is scheduled to take place in three phases from 2020 to 2031. Phase one, from 2020 to 2024, will include the transport of all irradiated fuel to the Zwilag central interim storage facility, the dismantling of radioactive components in the reactor and machine building, and the installation of equipment for their handling.
Phase two, from 2025 to 2030, includes the dismantling of all remaining systems and heavy components. In phase three in 2031, ENSI will check that there is no radiological risk at the facility.
The Mühleberg plant, a 373-MW boiling water reactor unit, began commercial operation in 1972. BKW said its shutdown at the end of 2019, brought forward from 2022, was because of “uncertainty surrounding political and regulatory trends”.
Switzerland has a fleet of five commercial nuclear power reactor units. According to International Atomic Energy Agency figures, they provided 33.4% of the country’s electricity in 2017.