Swiss nuclear plant closes early to fix security issues

29th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

A nuclear power plant that Swiss officials said had safety weaknesses will close for repairs ahead of schedule to address the government's concerns, the plant's owners announced Wednesday.

The Muehleberg nuclear station, one of four in the country, will shut down Thursday, five weeks before its scheduled closure, which takes place annually for standard maintenance.

The Swiss government said last month that it was considering phasing out its nuclear plants by 2034 following the accident at Japan's Fukushima plant in March.

Before recommending the phase-out, the government ordered its nuclear inspection agency (IFSN) to review security standards at all the country's plants.

The review found that the Muehleberg centre in northeast Switzerland, operated by the private electricity company FMB, had a number of security vulnerabilities, although none constituted in an immediate danger.

The company decided to shut down the plant "five weeks before the start of the ordinary annual review", FMB said in a statement, explaining that it wanted to ensure the water cooling system was functioning appropriately.

The company said it made the decision to comply the concerns raised during the government's security review.

The plant will likely reopen in September, once the annual review is complete, the company said.

Switzerland is not expected to make a final decision on its nuclear phase-out strategy until September.

© 2011 AFP

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