Mitholz ammunition depot – the whole village has to move for 10 years – News


The army wants to clear the old ammunition depot. This has serious consequences: 170 people have to leave Mitholz.

  • The people of Mitholz have to move for 10 years because of the eviction.
  • The VBS wants to support the 170 people in the relocation. Individual solutions should be found for those affected.
  • The road to and from the car transport in Kandersteg could be relocated or would have to be adequately secured. Protective structures are also necessary for the railway line between Bern and the Valais.
  • The traffic connections should always be kept open.

Defense Minister Viola Amherd has informed the affected population about the plans. It is now clear to those affected what consequences the evacuation of the former ammunition depot has on their lives. You can expect to leave your home in 2031.

The DDPS needs time until then to make further clarifications and preparations.

Existential questions

Around 170 people in 50 to 60 households are affected. You have to decide whether you want to stay or move away now. Whether they want to leave Mitholz forever or want to return after the ammunition depot has been cleared.

The goal of the DDPS is still to clear the old ammunition depot. According to current estimates, there are still 3,500 gross tons of ammunition with several hundred tons of explosives in the collapsed parts of the plant.

According to current knowledge, the evacuation will take years or decades. According to the DDPS, the safety of the residents must be guaranteed during the evacuation. To achieve this, the entire village should be evacuated for an estimated 10 years.

VBS promises individual solutions

The DDPS wants to find individual solutions for those affected. Participation should show what is necessary and possible. For example, those who want to build up a new existence somewhere after moving away should be supported by the DDPS; with advice, expert knowledge, legal assistance.

It is still unclear what will happen to the properties in Mitholz. Should this buy the VBS? Should she manage the DDPS for the duration of the move? What plans does the community have for Mitholz after clearing the old ammunition depot?

Many questions are still open at the present time.

Safety in the foreground

The safety of everyone involved is paramount, says Bruno Locher, head of space and environment at the VBS. “When we start evacuating, we have to master the risk, so preparations take a lot of time.”

The Mitholz plant

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During the Second World War, an underground military ammunition store was built in Mitholz. In 1947 it exploded, killing nine people. Only part of the stored ammunition exploded. The ammunition that did not explode could be partially cleared.

It is estimated that there are still 3,500 gross tons of ammunition in the collapsed facility and in the rubble cone in front of it.

The plant was used and expanded for various purposes between 1974 and 1987. From 1987 the facility was used by the army pharmacy and as a troop shelter.

Because a data center was planned in the plant, a new risk analysis was created. This assumes a significantly higher risk than previously assumed. The population, the rail passengers on the route from Bern to Valais and the road users on the road to Kandersteg are at risk.

Leaving the ammunition residues on site would, according to project manager Hanspeter Aellig, be a “toxic gift” for our descendants. In order to dispose of the ammunition after the salvage, a corresponding facility is to be built on site in Mitholz.

The VBS currently estimates the cost of the clearing in Mitholz at over one billion Swiss francs.

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