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Switzerland Rejects Plan to Speed Retirement of Nuclear Plants

FILE - Steam emerges from a cooling tower of the nuclear power plant Leibstadt near Leibstadt, Switzerland, Nov. 18, 2014.

Swiss voters on Sunday rejected an effort to hasten the process of phasing out the country's nuclear power plants.

If the "yes" votes had prevailed in the referendum, Switzerland would have moved to close three of the country's five reactors next year and the remaining two by 2029.

Following the 2011 incident in Fukushima, Switzerland, like other countries, pledged to decommission the ageing reactors, which currently generate 40 percent of Switzerland's electricity, as they reached the end of their safe operational lifespan but did not specify a date.

As part of an energy plan that runs through 2050, the Swiss government has already agreed not to replace its existing nuclear plants, which can operate as long as they are deemed safe.

But anti-nuclear advocacy groups, such as the Swiss Greens and Social Democrats, said the Swiss government's timetable has not been fast enough and pushed for the referendum to speed up the planned exit.

Due to public concern, no new nuclear power stations have been built in Switzerland since 1984.