She takes over as successor to Pankraz Freitag, Member of the Council of States, who died in October 2013. The 59-year old comes from Canton Aargau and has been a member of the National Council since 2007. Thanks to her many years of political and professional activity, she brings with her a wealth of experience in the areas of energy, environmental and legal issues.
Corina Eichenberger trained as a lawyer and is a partner in a legal firm based in Basel. In April 1993 she was elected to the cantonal parliament of Canton Aargau and held the position of president from 2005 to 2006. She has been a member of the National Council since 2007 and serves on the Audit and the Security Policy Commissions. Eichenberger is widowed and mother to two grown-up children. With her election to the presidency of the Nagra Board, she is resigning from her current position as President of the Nuclear Forum. Eichenberger: «I am looking forward to meeting the responsibilities involved in this challenging task. We owe it to our descendants to put the systems in place now for safe disposal of all radioactive waste.»
The search for sites for deep geological repositories was also a topic of discussion at the meeting. The process is currently in the second of three phases. «Decisive years lie ahead of us», explains Eichenberger; years in which the current generation will have to ensure that we move towards finding solutions for safe waste disposal. She intends to work actively to realise this goal. Looking back at 2013, Nagra's Chief Executive Officer Thomas Ernst summarised the focus of activities as follows: «All the parties involved in the Sectoral Plan process faced major challenges with the selection of the siting areas for the repository surface facilities, both in terms of timescales and the subject-matter involved.»
However, the effort invested has proved worthwhile: by the end of January 2014 all six geological siting regions had announced their decision on the location of the surface facilities. Based on this, Nagra prepared and published the associated planning studies for all the regions. The safety-based comparison of the siting regions will be completed by the end of 2014 and Nagra will then propose the regions to be carried forward for further investigation in Stage 3 of the site selection process. Within five to six years, Nagra expects to be able to name the sites for which it intends to submit a general licence application.
The annual general meeting also approved the annual financial statement for 2013. The total income was 59.0 million Swiss Francs. After subtracting income from services performed for third parties and various research contributions, the amount remaining to be met by contributions from the members of the Cooperative was 54.7 million Swiss Francs.
According to Swiss nuclear energy legislation, the producers of radioactive waste are responsible for its safe management and disposal. In 1972, the nuclear power plant operators and the Federal Government set up the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) to perform this task. Nagra, which has its headquarters in Wettingen (AG), is the national technical competence centre in the field of deep geological disposal of radioactive waste.
Out of a strong sense of responsibility for the long-term protection of man and the environment, 100 employees are involved daily in performing this important work. The high level of competence is secured by targeted research programmes in two Swiss underground rock laboratories and intensive international collaboration.