ZURICH, March 7 A Swiss court ruled that Switzerland's Muehleberg nuclear power plant must go offline next year for security reasons, according to a judgment made public on Wednesday.
"The state of the nuclear shell, the assessment of the plant's resistance to withstand earthquakes which is not complete, and lacking cooling possibilities independent of the river Aare allow operations of Muehleberg only up to mid 2013 at the most," the federal administrative court said in a ruling handed down March 1.
The ruling backs residents near to the plan in their bid to have the court overturn a previous decision by environment, transport energy and communication department UVEK to grant a longer operational period.
Switzerland administrative court said the plant's operator, BKW FMB, would have to submit planned safety measures, costs and how long Muehleberg should be maintained in case BKW still intended to operate the plant long-term, which it had planned to do.
BKW said it would evaluate the court ruling, which can be appealed, before deciding on further procedure.
Following Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, nuclear plants have come under increasing public scrutiny.
Muehleberg, built in 1972, is one of the plants frequently cited by opponents of nuclear energy as ripe for mothballing.
The government decided to scrap plans to build new nuclear reactors after Fukushima shook public confidence in the industry. Until now, it had not planned to shut existing power plants prematurely.
Switzerland derives about 40 percent of its power from nuclear plants. (Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Mike Nesbit)