ENSI Board Chairman Resigns with Immediate Effect

Peter Hufschmied, Chairman of the ENSI Board, will not be resuming his office. Hufschmied stepped aside on 3 May 2011 because major doubts had surfaced about his independence. Investigations subsequently initiated by DETEC have now shown that Hufschmied’s seats on other boards – which have since become public – are compatible with the provisions regarding independence stated in the ENSI Ordinance. However, discrepancies were identified between the ENSI Act and the Ordinance. In order not to jeopardise ENSI’s credibility, Hufschmied has therefore decided to resign from the ENSI Board immediately.

Doubts cast over Peter Hufschmied’s independence in the media prompted the ENSI Board Chairman to step aside on 3 May 2011 until the question of his independence could be clarified (cf. the ENSI media release dated 3 May 2011). Investigations by the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) have now shown that Hufschmied was not in breach of the provisions regarding independence that are stipulated in the ENSI Ordinance. Hufschmied could therefore end his period of leave and resume his activities as ENSI Board Chairman. However, DETEC also found that the implementation provisions in the Ordinance are not as far-reaching as the requirements for independence stipulated in the ENSI Act.

“I have always complied with the requirements stated in the Ordinance”, Hufschmied comments, “but even the appearance of partiality could damage ENSI’s credibility.” For this reason, Hufschmied decided not to resume his office and to submit his resignation to the Federal Council. The resignation letter was delivered to the Federal Council today (Friday).

The ENSI Board will henceforth be headed by Vice-Chair Anne Eckhardt Scheck. She had already taken over the Chairman’s duties after Hufschmied’s decision to step aside. At the end of the year, the Federal Council will elect the members of the ENSI Board for the 2012–2016 term of office.

The members of the ENSI Board regret the resignation of their Chairman, whom they describe as performing his official remit in a professional, circumspect and independent manner. Peter Hufschmied was the first Chairman of the ENSI Board. During his period of office, ENSI was successfully made independent as a public-law entity.

The ENSI Board

The ENSI Board is the strategic and internal supervisory body of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI). Its remit includes the following tasks:

  • To define ENSI’s strategic objectives;
  • To monitor ENSI’s management and supervisory activities;
  • To elect the Director and the other members of ENSI’s Executive Board.

The ENSI Board consists of 5 to 7 members. In particular, the members of the ENSI Board have specialist knowledge of nuclear safety and experience of management. They are not permitted “to engage in any commercial activities, nor may they hold any office at Federal or cantonal level which could detract from their independence (Article 6, paragraph 3, ENSIG).

The ENSI Board exerts no influence over the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate’s operational business (inspections and assessment reports). Rulings are also issued solely by ENSI’s Executive Board.