December 1, 2011 / 4:35 PM / 7 years ago

Swiss relax nuclear shelter construction law

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland has agreed to relax its civil protection laws so that only large buildings will have to provide nuclear shelters, more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, Switzerland, began requiring space in a nuclear fallout shelter for each resident.

Yet with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the threat of a nuclear war having subsided, many bunkers — often in cellars of houses and apartment blocks — are used to store wine, sports equipment and unwanted household junk.

Under new rules that come into force in January 2012, only buildings that have 38 rooms or more will have to build a shelter. Previously the law required a shelter for all buildings with eight plus rooms.

The government has also cut the fee it charges to those who decide not to build a shelter to a maximum of 800 Swiss francs ($870), giving a person the right to a space in a community shelter. ($1 = 0.9207 Swiss francs)

Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Paul Casciato

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