ENSI Board Replies to Markus Kühni

In a widely-distributed letter addressed to the ENSI Board and Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, Markus Kühni, a member of Fokus Anti-Atom, levels fierce accusations against ENSI in his capacity as a private individual who resides close to Zone 2 (Bern).

In connection with its comment on the proof of safety in case of flooding at the Mühleberg nuclear power plant, ENSI is guilty of “serious lapses in the application of international and national regulations on nuclear safety”, Markus Kühni writes in a letter to the ENSI Board dated 26 September 2011. He continues: “The ENSI Board and the Federal Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC), which are responsible for overseeing ENSI’s supervisory activities, are called upon to demand that ENSI corrects the errors and to monitor this process.”

Markus Kühni has also written a letter to Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard in order to make the DETEC head aware of his letter of complaint to the ENSI Board. In this letter, he asks Federal Councillor Leuthard “to use your position and the powers associated with it to examine my findings and to give emphasis to the resultant requirements”.

The ENSI Board instructed ENSI’s Executive Board to comment on Mr Kühni’s accusations. In a first, non-conclusive comment for the attention of the ENSI Board, ENSI’s Executive Board rejected the accusations made by the environmental activist.

The ENSI Board today appended this comment to its initial letter in reply to Markus Kühni:

“The requirements specified by ENSI on 1 April following the accident at Fukushima mean that stricter underlying assumptions will now be adopted. These assumptions go beyond the requirements stated in international standards.

The risk of an accident at the Mühleberg nuclear power plant has not increased since Fukushima. The immediate measures implemented in recent weeks due to the stricter requirements imposed by ENSI have brought about further improvements to safety.

The author is the victim of a fundamental fallacy: He argues on the basis of national and international rules that are only applicable to newly constructed nuclear power plants, and he demands that they should also be applied without any changes to the Mühleberg nuclear power plant. This is not permissible.

For existing nuclear power plants, the Swiss regulations allow for the crediting of prepared internal emergency protection measures – such as the deployment of tanker trucks to top up fuel or the use of mobile pumps stored on site – in order to bring incidents under control.

It was for these reasons that ENSI accepted the proof of ability to bring the 10,000-year flood under control that was submitted by the Mühleberg nuclear power plant, and this is why it decided that the power plant could rejoin the grid once the immediate measures were implemented.

For longer-term operation, ENSI requires additional back-fitting measures in order to make further improvements to the cooling water supply at the Mühleberg nuclear power plant. Since the Mühleberg nuclear power plant now meets the basic statutory requirements, it may continue to be operated while the back-fitting work is carried out. A requirement for back-fitting in the longer term is not a reason for a plant to be taken out of service immediately.”

In response to the renewed accusations regarding flooding hazard assumptions, we refer to our comments at the media conference on 7 September and the repeated reporting on this subject at ensi.ch