In order to get an international perspective, Sweden has requested that OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) perform an independent review of the parts of SKB’s (the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company) applications covering long-term radiation safety as well as the selection of site and method. The review by the NEA will supplement the Authority’s review and serve as key input for the municipalities involved as well as other interested parties.
The NEA is a forum for international co-operation for matters relating to nuclear power and nuclear waste. This forum has representatives from 29 of the most developed industrialised countries. The NEA has the important task of supporting the work of governments and their specialists for a common understanding of the knowledge situation in terms of radioactive waste management and for promoting progress in this field.
Over the years, the NEA has organised more than 15 peer reviews of national safety analysis reports regarding disposal of spent nuclear fuel in several member countries. Previous international peer reviews conducted by the NEA in Sweden include:
- 1980s: Peer review of the KBS-3 report, SKB’s first complete safety analysis report for the KBS-3 method, as assigned by the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI)
- 1990s: Peer review of SKI’s own two safety analyses for a KBS-3 repository, ‘Project-90’ and SKI’s ‘SITE-94’ as assigned by SKI
- 1990s: Peer review of SKB’s updated safety analysis report, SR 97, as assigned by SKI and SSI (the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority)
Guidelines regarding conflicts of interest and competence
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has stipulated the general requirements imposed in terms of competence and conflicts of interest that the Authority is of the view that the NEA should take into consideration when selecting its experts. This ambition is based on the Authority’s policy on conflicts of interest when engaging external consultants and is formulated in the document ‘Terms of Reference’ as agreed between the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the NEA.
The Terms of Reference state that the NEA is to report to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority if present or future circumstances may put into question the experts’ independence in relation to SKB or Posiva, Finland’s nuclear waste management company.
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority cannot directly influence the selection of experts as this is an independent international peer review. The review is being financed by Sweden.
The process of the international peer review
The review organised by the NEA will take one year and started in May 2011. The team of experts began by reviewing the material and has forwarded two sets of questions to SKB for written responses. In December, the team of experts will hold a hearing with SKB. Then they will write their final report, which in the summer of 2012 will be presented during meetings held in Sweden with the parties concerned, such as the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, the municipal authorities of Östhammar and Oskarshamn, SKB and environmental organisations. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority will announce and publish the results of the review on its website when the review has been completed.
The international review team that has commenced its work and will review the safety analysis report for SKB’s repository application consists of ten international specialists. These specialists represent academia, the nuclear power industry, regulatory authorities, research institutes, special interest groups and international bodies and are from Europe, Japan and North America. The team is led by Michael Sailer of the Oeko-Institut, which is an independent German research institute for applied ecology.
An international peer review of the SKB license-application study of March 2011 (Final report)
Members of the NEA international review team
Terms of Reference
General information and guidelines for international peer reviews
Questions from OECD-NEA to SKB and SKB's responses
First Questionnaire of the OECD-NEA international peer review team to SKB (26-apr-2011)
SKB's responses to the first questionnaire (14-jun-2011)
Second questionnaire of the OECD-NEA international peer review team to SKB (26-jul-2011)
SKB's respons to the second questionnaire (6-sep-2011)
Complementary answers from SKB on the second questionnaire-SR-Can (11-sep- 2011)
Presentation: Progress in the Understanding of the Long-term Corrosion Behaviour of Copper Canisters (11-sep-2011)
Complementary answers from SKB on the second questionnaire-Output from the erosion/corrosion model (11-sep-2011)
Third questionnaire of the OECD-NEA international peer review team to SKB (7-oct-2011)
SKB's response to the third questionnaire (3-nov-2011)
Additional information requested by the IRT at December
SKB's response to additional question from the NEA IRT (16-feb-2012)
SKB's response to additional NEA IRT question regarding (1-mar-2012)
Presentations given by SKB to the NEA international review team at site visit on 14 December 2011
System Design of Plugs
Alternative Buffer Materials Project
System design of buffer
Canister Retrieval Test
System Design of Backfill
Deposition vehicle Tests
NEA IRT visit at the Canister Laboratory
Forsmark Site Visit
Hydraulic properties of fractures and fracture systems under present-day boundary conditions
Plans for detailed investigations
Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory-An Overview Introduction
Bedrock geology–data, conceptual understanding and models
Piping and Erosion during the saturation stage-The Eva Project
Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory-RD&D experiments