Voters in the Swiss canton of Bern yesterday rejected an initiative to prematurely shut down the single-unit M ühleberg nuclear station, which is scheduled for closure in 2019.
A clear majority of 63.3 percent said no to the proposal to immediately stop operation of the plant, which is owned and operated by utility BKW-FMB Energie AG (BKW).
Voter turnout was 51.6 percent with 236,285 voting against immediate shutdown and 137,285 in favour.
The 373-megawatt boiling water reactor unit began commercial operation in November 1972. BKW decided in October 2013 to shut down the unit in 2019 for economic reasons, particularly expensive safety back-fitting work requested by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Inspectorate (Ensi) following the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident.
Last year BKW said it planned to invest approximately 200 million Swiss francs (CHF) (about 163 million euros) in upgrade projects at Mühleberg for the remaining years of operation. BKW said today that CHF 15 million of that is allocated for “extraordinary retrofit measures”.
BKW welcomed the results of the referendum, saying it showed that voters trust BKW and support the decision in favour of an orderly shutdown for Mühleberg in2019.
After the Fukushima-Daiichi accident in 2011, the Swiss federal government and parliament voted to ban new-build reactors and to close the existing five units at the end of their useful lifetimes.