Switzerland? It is certainly known as a high-tech and safety first country….. or could that all be “fake news”? That depends on how you look at it. The Swiss technical inspection company would never allow an obsolete kitchen appliance to be displayed on shop shelves – even if it says “made in Switzerland.” However, the federal government in Berne allows the power plant operators to have their five nuclear power stations feed energy into the power grid despite their completely outdated technology, a technology which has turned against human life from day one of its operation during which the slightest mistake could lead to a disaster of unforeseeable consequences – and for nukes, there’s no cure for aging ever! Thus, it is hard to believe that the Swiss government simply tosses aside the to-err-is-human factor which normally goes undisputed in any risk calculation.
In May 2017, the whole of the Swiss nation held its breath: in a referendum, 1,3 million Swiss citizens approved with a 58 percent majority that no new nuclear power plant was to be built and no spent fuel rods were to leave Swiss soil for reconditioning purposes. The driving force behind these achievements are activists who have committed themselves to end the nuclear age in Switzerland, fighting over seven national referenda and for almost forty years.
Hence, the turnaround in the Swiss energy policy is well prepared: from the Upper Rhine all the way down to Lake Geneva, the country has promoted renewable energy production, energy-focused building refurbishment and efficiency measures.
The activists in Switzerland’s anti-nuclear movement consider this a „breakthrough“, which the nuclear power corporations and the nuclear lobbies fiercely opposed to the very end. It took decades of controversial debates on nuclear power policies culminating in the question whether to build large nuclear power stations in different regions. In Kaiseraugst, one construction project was successfully prevented; yet, in Gösgen, a nuclear power plant has been in operation since 1979 (!). It all started with courageous occupations of the building sites and protests in tear gas fog, but finally the legislators produced a full package of regulations even if charged with a series of compromises and amendments: nevertheless, the new energy law is a sound documentation of the beginning of the end for the Swiss nuclear age. Still, the five Swiss nuclear power plants are not yet shut down, despite their severely obsolete technology. The struggle continues to phase out one of the oldest running nuclear power plant worldwide and its four fatal cronies…
This success story so far has seen many mothers and fathers, committed people who have kept it all up during the past decades. They were never prominent, they never stood in the limelight of the media or benefitted from political platforms. It is high time to honor and recognize the women and men who are usually forgotten; those who worked behind the scenes and remain committed to the cause; the activists who organized and continue to act; the dedicated individuals who investigated despite obstacles and setbacks and relentlessly inform the public to this day.