Mitholz: Swiss town faces 10-year evacuation over arms dump

March 11, 2020 By 0 Comments

A Swiss village may have to evacuate for over a decade while authorities clear a huge World War Two arms dump.

The defence ministry concluded last year that the cache posed an “unacceptable” risk to the nearby people of Mitholz.

Now, authorities say residents may have to leave while they clear the site.

“Depending on how the work develops, residents should expect the evacuation to last up to more than 10 years,” the ministry said.

Residents would have to approve the plan to leave the area. A public consultation is under way to see how best to proceed.

“People live there who have been rooted in the village for generations,” Brigitte Rindlisbacher, chair of the Mitholz working group, reportedly said. “It hurts to see them in this situation.”

The depot partially exploded in 1947, killing nine people and destroying the nearby train station.

But more than 70 years later, about 3,500 tonnes of ammunition remain buried under rock at the site.

The 2018 report said the risks had been underestimated for decades, and removing the explosives could be “very complex”, as rock would probably have to be removed layer by layer.

Officials believe preparing the site for evacuation will take at least ten years as well – including building an emergency road to bypass the area.

Any evacuation for the town’s residents would probably not begin until 2031. Assessors at the dump are due to publish a report on 17 April.