Operation of the nuclear power plants produces highly active substances that are contained in the fuel elements.
After 4 to 6 years in the reactor, the spent fuel elements and have to be replaced. After unloading from the reactor, the spent fuel is held in interim storage facilities until it can be transported for reprocessing or disposed of directly in a deep geological repository.
All low- and intermediate-level waste from the power plants and from medicine, industry and research will also be held in interim storage until such time as a geological repository becomes available.
Many important milestones in the waste management process have already been achieved: inventorying (characterisation) of the waste, processing (conditioning) and interim storage, as well as the demonstration that disposing of waste in Switzerland is technically feasible. Still to be realised is the construction of deep geological repositories.