The countries which are contracting parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) will meet in Vienna on 9 February 2015 to discuss a Swiss proposal to improve the safety of nuclear power plants. On Wednesday, the Federal Council appointed Hans Wanner, Director General of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) to head the delegation, and conferred the necessary powers for this purpose on him.
Switzerland’s proposal would require new nuclear power plants to be built in compliance with the latest safety standards and technologies. The safety of existing nuclear power plants should also be based on these standards and a binding back-fitting obligation should be introduced at international level. Each country would have to report regularly on its back-fitting status under the auspices of the CNS.
Summarising the proposal which Switzerland introduced successfully about one year ago, Hans Wanner notes: “The aim of the proposed amendments is to make nuclear power plants safer all over the world”. At the CNS Review Meeting in April 2014, a majority of the contracting states in attendance voiced generally positive opinions on Switzerland’s amendment proposal and gave their assent to a Diplomatic Conference. Two thirds of all the contracting states must approve the text at a Diplomatic Conference in order for it to be adopted definitively.
For this reason, intensive discussions with the 77 countries which are contracting parties to the Convention have been under way for several months. None of the contracting states has questioned the principle of safety that the Swiss proposal describes. Discussions have focused mainly on the choice of instrument into which the proposal should be incorporated.
An improvement to safety usually entails investments. In Switzerland, the back-fitting obligation for existing installations is already established by the Nuclear Energy Act (NEA).