Economic impacts of a deep geological repository on the siting region

Bern, 02.07.2012 - Deep geological repositories for radioactive waste have economic, ecological and social impacts on a siting region. These need to be identified objectively and as early as possible so that action can be taken to prevent negative impacts and at the same time opportunities for positive developments can be exploited. It is with these objectives in mind that the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has been carrying out an intercantonal socioeconomic and ecological study since 2011 in all potential siting regions. The first interim report on the regional economic impacts of a deep geological repository is now available.

The procedure for analysing the economic, ecological and social impacts of deep geological repositories is described in the spatial planning methodology for comparing sites in stage 2. The methodology is based on an objectives and indicators system that specifies which impacts of a deep geological repository are to be assessed and how they are to be evaluated. For the three dimensions - environment, economy and society - primary objectives have been defined together with secondary objectives with various criteria and indicators (measured variables) which can be used for identifying and evaluating impacts. The socioeconomic and ecological study focuses on the entire siting region and encompasses the full period from the construction of the field laboratory through to the sealing of the facility, for which it proposes a duration of 94 years. The study is based on quantifiable indicators to the greatest possible extent, and rules out image-related impacts, which are to be examined in a separate study.

Added value

How much of the expenditure for the construction and operation of a deep geological repository a siting region can obtain depends to a certain extent on the economic power of the region (basis: status as of 2008), and partly on the degree of involvement of the construction industry in the respective siting region, since the greatest portion of this expenditure is required for construction and civil engineering, installation and metalworking.

Over the period of 94 years, a deep geological repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste generates directly, as well as indirectly via advance payments and consumer spending (by employees), an average annual added value of between 4.4 million (Wellenberg) and 5.5 million (Jura-Südfuss) Swiss francs. For a deep geological repository for high-level radioactive waste the figures range from 15 million (Zürich Nordost) to 16.3 million (Jura Ost), while for a combined repository they range from 18.7 million (Zürich Nordost) to 20.3 million (Jura Ost).

Employment

On average, a deep geological repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste generates a total of between 35 (Wellenberg) and 45 (Jura-Südfuss) full-time-equivalent jobs in the respective siting region. Here it should be noted that the employment effect is significantly lower during operation than during the period of construction of the facility.

The figures for a deep geological repository for high-level radioactive waste range from 109 (Zürich Nordost) to 120 (Jura-Südfuss) full-time-equivalent jobs. The difference between construction period and operation is less pronounced here than for a deep geological repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste because Nagra intends to transfer its head office to the site of the repository for high-level waste. A combined repository yields the highest employment effect, ranging from 139 (Zürich Nordost) to 153 (Jura Ost) full-time-equivalent jobs.

Tourism

A deep geological repository will attract visitors and can thus make a positive contribution towards regional tourism. But at the same time, a decline in the number of tourists seeking nature holidays has to be anticipated, so on balance annual tourism revenue is expected to fall by between 0.1 million (Nördlich Lägern) and 5.4 million (Wellenberg) Swiss francs due to the presence of a deep geological repository. The sharp fall in revenue in Wellenberg is attributable to the high number of nature holiday visitors, who are likely to show very little tolerance for a deep geological repository. The Jura Ost region, too, has a high proportion of nature tourists thanks to its nature park ("Jurapark Aargau"), and is therefore expected to incur a drop in revenue by around 1.1 million Swiss francs.

Agriculture

The presence of a deep geological repository could also have an impact on the direct sale of agricultural products. Here, sales figures could fall by between 0.1 million (Jura-Südfuss, Wellenberg) and 0.6 million (Südranden) Swiss francs per annum.

Tax revenue

A deep geological repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste generates average annual tax revenue in the siting region of between minus 265,000 (Wellenberg) and plus 237,000 (Jura-Südfuss) Swiss francs. In the Wellenberg region, the overall balance is negative for the entire observation period of 94 years due to a sharp drop in tax revenue during the period of operation of the facility and the potential negative impacts on tourism and agriculture. During the construction period, tax revenue is also positive in the Wellenberg region. For a deep geological repository for high-level radioactive waste, annual tax revenue of between 330,000 (Jura Ost) and 460,000 (Zürich Nordost) Swiss francs is anticipated, while the figures for a combined repository are between 450,000 (Jura Ost) and 670,000 (Zürich Nordost) Swiss francs. Tax revenue is significantly lower during the period of operation than during the construction phase, because the facility itself does not yield a profit and therefore no corporate tax is payable.

Compensation

Compensation payments are independent of the siting region and are much higher than the tax revenue. According to proposals put forward by the operators of the nuclear power plants, the amounts for the entire period of 94 years are around 300 million Swiss francs for a deep geological repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste, 500 million for a deep geological repository for high-level radioactive waste and 800 million for a combined repository.

Conclusions

The economic effects of a deep geological repository on the siting region are low. Over the entire 94-year period from construction of the field laboratory through to the sealing of the facility, both the positive and the negative impacts are well below one percent of the present-day regional value chain, employment level and tax revenue.

Next steps

The results of the first interim report (socioeconomic and ecological study, part 1) were presented to the regional conference workgroups in the past few weeks, who now have the opportunity to examine them and comment on them. The contractors will revise this interim report on the basis of input from the regional conferences and after Nagra has narrowed down the site proposals (in accordance with the deep geological repositories sectoral plan, Nagra is required to designate at least one site for the surface facility in each siting region, and it is expected to take this step at the beginning of 2013). The ecological and social impacts are to be studied in part 2 of the socioeconomic and ecological study, which will be initiated after Nagra has narrowed down the site proposals. According to the current timetable, the final report on socioeconomic and ecological impacts with all indicators is due to be completed in summer 2013.


Address for enquiries

Marianne Zünd, head of Communication section, SFOE, phone 031 322 56 75



Publisher

Swiss Federal Office of Energy
http://www.bfe.admin.ch

Federal Office for Spatial Development
https://www.are.admin.ch/are/en/home.html

Last modification 05.01.2016

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