The hotlab research facility
Start of the public examination period for renewed authorization to operate the research facility hotlab at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI
The hotlab at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is a facility, unique in Switzerland, where researchers study highly radioactive materials in specially shielded chambers called
hot cells. It serves the needs of applied materials research on highly radioactive samples from core structural components and fuel rods from nuclear power plants, research reactors, and the PSI radiation facilities. Through its operation of the hotlab, the Paul Scherrer Institute also contributes to the safety of the nuclear power plants in Switzerland. Around thirty staff members attend to the hotlab's safety technology and analysis infrastructure.
The Swiss Federal Department of Transport and Energy granted the hotlab an open-ended operating authorization to work with radioactive substances in 1965. Since the authorization was issued, however, a variety of basic legal principles have been modified or specified more precisely. Therefore the PSI and the currently responsible supervisory agency, the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), agreed that the hotlab should undergo the authorization process again according to these new regulations.
In January 2016, the PSI submitted the definitive application documents for the hotlab to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). The application is being made known to the public in the legally prescribed official publications (8 Feb. 2016, in the Bulletin Würenlingen and the newspaper Botschaft; 9 Feb. in the Bundesblatt; 11 Feb. in the newspaper Rundschau; 12 Feb. in the Amtsblatt Kanton Aargau; and in the Mitteilungsblatt Villigen at a date to be determined).
From 17 February to 17 March 2016, the application documents will be made available for public examination by the building authority of the municipality of Würenlingen. During this time, parties affected by the project have the possibility to raise objections against it. The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications is responsible for deciding on the application submitted by the PSI for authorization to operate the hotlab. According to the current timeline, it will issue its decision at the beginning of 2017.
The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI develops, builds and operates large, complex research facilities and makes them available to the national and international research community. The institute's own key research priorities are in the fields of matter and materials, energy and environment and human health. PSI is committed to the training of future generations. Therefore about one quarter of our staff are post-docs, post-graduates or apprentices. Altogether PSI employs 1900 people, thus being the largest research institute in Switzerland. The annual budget amounts to approximately CHF 380 million.
(Last updated in April 2015)