In Switzerland, every resident must have a place in an atomic bomb shelter within a 30 minute walk of their home. The distance is extended to a 60 minute walk in mountain regions. However, the rules on atomic shelters have not been followed in a number of cantons and municipalities, reports RTS.
According to the law, every resident must have a place in a shelter. This must either be in the home, or, in the case of some new buildings, a special tax can be paid to fund and secure a space in a communal shelter.
Considered by some to be an outdated vestige of the cold war, the requirement has been challenged numerous times at the federal level.
However, with Russia’s current nuclear saber rattling, a number of residents have been calling their local municipalities to find out where their atomic shelter space is located, according to RTS.
The municipality of Biel/Bienne in the canton of Bern has received a number of calls and so decided to post information on the subject on its website. The post says that the most asked questions currently relate to atomic shelters and the possible shortage of places and basic supplies. It response, the municipality says an armed conflict on Swiss territory is unlikely and so the allocation of spaces in bomb shelters has not been made.
According to a document from 2017 provided to RTS by the federal government, the number of shelter spaces – public and private – had reached 110% of the population. However, 7 cantons had a shortage of spaces, with the cantons of Geneva (72%), Neuchâtel (76%), Basel-City (81%) and Fribourg (90%) at the bottom. Vaud (97%), Ticino (97%) and Thurgau (98%) were just below 100% coverage. At the other end were Obwalden (132%), Glarus (142%) and Graubunden (146%), with a surplus of space. Although, even in Graubunden some municipalities had insufficient space while others, often those catering to tourists, had a surplus of spaces.
These figures do not include the underground areas of train stations. The administration of the canton of Geneva thinks these spaces could fill the gap there if they were requisitioned.
Alain Ribaux, a member of the government in Neuchâtel, told RTS that there would be no need to build shelters to fill the 46,000 shortfall in the canton. If current facilities were brought up to standard with the acquisition of beds and toilets, coverage would rise from 75% to 95%, he said.