Canton rejects waste repository

3 November 2002

More voters in Switzerland's Nidwalden canton voted against construction of a test gallery at Wellenberg than had done so in 1995. The 57.5% vote against the project was 5% more than in 1995. It may stop the project completely, despite federal permission to proceed and agreement from the community of Wolfschiessen, where it would be sited.

Voters in that community, which would have gained financially, favoured the construction, but the larger canton controls underground construction permits.

The 1995 vote included proceeding to repository construction, while the current vote was for a more limited test project, and was thought to have a better chance of acceptance.

Genossenschaft fur Nukleare Entsorgung Wellenberg, created to build the project, has appealed to the federal government to provide "a political and legal environment" to solve repository- building problems.

The day after the vote, Switzerland's lower house of parliament decided to let cantons maintain a veto over proposals for radwaste repositories on their soil, but also allowed reprocessing of spent fuel to continue.

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