Most Swiss want nuclear energy phased out: poll

20th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Support in Switzerland for nuclear power plants fell sharply following the disaster in Japan, with a new poll published Sunday showing that 87 percent of the population want the country's reactors phased out.

The opinion poll jointly commissioned by newspapers Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung indicated that 77 percent called for a shut down of nuclear reactors in the medium term while 10 percent sought an immediate end.

Five nuclear power plants are in operation in Switzerland, and the country had been holding consultative polls on whether or not it should renew three of these plants.

Last Monday, however, the government suspended plans to replace its ageing nuclear power plants amid fears of a nuclear disaster in Japan, triggered by the deadly earthquake that hit the island March 11.

Japanese workers have been struggling for more than a week to restore power to the failed Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, to try cool down its overheating reactors and prevent a meltdown disaster.

In an interview with Blick am Sonntag, Heinz Karrer, who heads the Swiss energy group Axpo, acknowledged that "at the moment, it is unthinkable to talk about another new nuclear power plant."

However, Karrer, whose group is among energy companies seeking to replace their older nuclear plants, warned that shutting down reactors now would lead to much higher energy prices.

"On a peak day in winter, we are depending today about 70 to 80 percent on atomic energy," he revealed.

Importing more electricity from abroad would increase Switzerland's dependance on others and lead to less stability in its energy supply.

"In addition, electricity will be massively more expensive," he warned.

© 2011 AFP

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