A nuclear fallout shelter for all 9 million residents of Switzerland? Why the country has been preparing for nuclear war for decades and what residents are expected to do in the event of one.
After Russia’s attack this week on Ukrainian power plant Zaporizhzhya, the Swiss government reassured residents that the country is prepared for every kind of attack – even a nuclear one, with fallout shelters for every resident of Switzerland.
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“Neutrality is no guarantee against radioactivity,” was the government slogan that went around at the beginning of the Cold War to fund the building of fallout shelters. A law was passed quickly after that every “inhabitant must have a protected place that can be reached quickly from his place of residence” and “apartment block owners are required to construct and fit out shelters in all new dwellings.” This bunker must either be built into one’s home or apartment building, or residents can pay a special tax to secure a space in a communal shelter.
But these shelters are not typical basements or even what you would use during a tornado. They are built at least 3 meters below ground and the walls are made of several centimeters thick concrete. The doors lock with an airtight seal and the ventilation does not allow deadly nuclear toxins in, but also prevents carbon monoxide poisoning. Shelters are built to be able to withstand a 12-megaton explosion within 700 meters of the blast.
The largest Swiss shelter was constructed...