Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Squeaking By in Switzerland


Mühleberg, a town in Switzerland, has a nuclear power plant, it’s beginning to age, the writing is on the wall to shut it down. That’s the end of nuclear energy there, isn’t it? That what the town wants, right? Well, no:
The people of canton Bern have voted in favor of building a new nuclear power plant in Mühleberg to replace the old one there.
Now, this outcome was a little more controversial than that. The state (or canton) of Bern voted for this, but the city of Bern – which is Switzerland’s capital – voted against it. The canton’s vote in favor was narrow – 51 percent – and the city’s vote against rather large – 65 percent. Since the city of Bern is in the canton, the numbers suggest that people outside Bern supported this in rather larger numbers than that 51 percent. That would make sense – it’s the people of Muhleberg and surrounding areas that see the economic benefits from the plant.


In any event, the plant operator is pleased enough:
"It is a positive signal for nuclear power and a healthy mix of energy sources," Axpo spokeswoman Daniela Biedermann told the Swiss News Agency.
And so are people who would rather do without a new plant:
Meanwhile, Roland Näf, president of the Bern branch of the centre-left Social Democrats, was pleased that so many voted against the Mühleberg II project."We can be happy that support for atomic energy is crumbling," Näf told the Swiss News Agency.
So it goes in elections, especially close ones. The vote was to measure public opinion and is non-binding, but it doesn’t show any compelling reason not to build the new plant. So that’s what’s now planned. Good enough outcome for me.


The plant in question.

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