Legal framework

The Federal Government defines the legal and political framework for waste disposal.

Article 90 of the Federal Constitution states that legislation in the area of nuclear energy is a matter for the Swiss Confederation. The Nuclear Energy Act of 2003 (in force since 2005) regulates the peaceful use of nuclear energy, with particular emphasis on the protection of man and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation. The Act applies to nuclear goods, nuclear installations and radioactive waste.

Licensing authority

A radioactive waste repository is a nuclear installation as defined by the legislation and therefore requires a general licence (granted by the Federal Council), a construction licence (granted by DETEC (Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications)) and an operating licence (DETEC). Some geological investigations also require additional licences (also DETEC).


The site investigations conducted by Nagra and the later construction and operation of deep geological repositories are monitored and controlled by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI). ENSI is an institution of the Federal Government under public law.  

On 1st January 2009, ENSI replaced the former HSK. HSK was a technically independent federal office that was not bound by instructions.




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