ZURICH, March 14 The operator of a Swiss
nuclear plant is appealing a decision to shut it down ahead of
schedule next year, citing planned new safety measures and the
high cost of mothballing it.
A Swiss court ruled on March 1 that the Muehleberg nuclear
plant, operated by BKW FMB, must go offline in 2013 due
to questions about its ability to withstand an earthquake and
independent cooling facilities.
"BKW has decided to lodge an appeal against the decision
with the Federal Court," it said in a statement on Wednesday.
"A premature shutdown ... would entail significant financial
and technical implications."
Following Japan's Fukushima disaster last year, nuclear
plants have come under increasing public scrutiny in
Switzerland, which gets about 40 percent of its power from
Muehleberg, built in 1972, is one of the plants frequently
cited by opponents of nuclear energy as ripe for mothballing.
BKW, which is planning to improve the plant, will submit to
authorities proof of its ability to withstand a severe
earthquake, and is working on cooling systems to complement the
current scheme that is based on water from the river Aare.
Decommissioning Muehleberg would hit BKW's operating income
by about 50 million Swiss francs ($54.36 million) per year and
decommissioning and disposal funds would have to be augmented by
some 450 million francs, BKW said.
After Fukushima shook public confidence in the industry, the
Swiss government decided to scrap plans to build new nuclear
reactors, but has not said it will shut existing power plants
($1 = 0.9199 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Catherine Bosley)