The Swiss Nuclear Energy Act places the operators of the nuclear power plants under a legal obligation to return their facilities to greenfield sites after final shutdown. All the radioactive waste arising from the operation, decommissioning and dismantling of the plants has to be disposed of safely in deep geological repositories and the operators have to bear the associated costs.
The costs of decommissioning and waste disposal are included in the ex-plant electricity price. The waste disposal costs that arise during power plant operation are met by the operators on an ongoing basis. These costs include interim storage, transports, containers and preparing (conditioning) the waste for later emplacement in the deep geological repositories.
In addition to these ongoing costs, the operators also make payments, during the operating lifetime of the plants, into two funds (decommissioning and waste disposal) that are administered by the federal government. This ensures that the costs of decommissioning and waste disposal arising after shutdown are covered. The obligation to bear costs, and hence the cost risk, are not transferred to the funds, but remain with the operators of the power plants.
The costs expected in the future are estimated every five years based on state-of-the-art knowledge as part of cost studies organised by the federal government. These cost studies provide the basis for calculating the contributions of the plant operators to the two funds and the financial provisions to be set aside. The cost studies are reviewed by the federal regulatory authorities and independent experts.
The objective is that neither the federal government nor future generations will ultimately have to bear costs that are not already covered by the funds. This is underpinned by consistent implementation of the precautionary and polluter pays principles.
The following document summarizes the recent cost study (2011) for decommissioning and waste disposal in Switzerland:
A summary of the recent cost study 2016 is available under downloads.
The following graph shows the state of the funds for decommissioning and waste disposal by the end of 2015: