Continued checks by Switzerland’s Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) at unit 1 of the Beznau NPP (world’s oldest nuclear reactor) mean that the plant will not be restarted before the end of the year. The reactor, which began operation in 1969, was shut down in March 2015 after defects were found in the reactor pressure vessel (RPV). In November plant owner energy company Axpo said it had completed the required tests and that the reactor was safe to be restarted. Results of the tests, carried out on a replica of the RPV, were submitted to ENSI for review, commenting that it had “no safety concerns” about the plant, which could operate until 2030.
However, on 20 December, Swiss media reported that ENSI’s examination of the test results was taking longer than previously assumed. The inspectorate has requested further information from Axpo and will not be taking a decision on restarting the plant until March 2017, said Tages Anzeiger. The closure of Beznau I has so far reportedly cost Axpo CHF200m ($195m) and this will probably increase with the further delay. In November the Swiss public voted against an initiative led by the Green Party that could have seen Beznau I shut down permanently by next year. Beznau I is sited on an artificial island on the Aare river, 10km from the German border. The second reactor was built at the plant in 1971.