Repositories for radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel

One of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s tasks is to review the licence applications for final disposal submitted by Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB; also called “Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company”) to the Authority, and to consider the permission being sought in relation to the Act on Nuclear Activities and the Authority’s official regulations.

In 2011, SKB submitted applications for permission to construct an encapsulation facility and a repository for spent nuclear fuel. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has concluded its processing of this matter. In our pronouncement to the Government of Sweden, submitted on 23 January 2018, we recommend approval of SKB’s applications.

As of 2014, we have also been examining SKB’s application for permission to extend SFR, a pre-existing repository for short-lived radioactive waste.

A repository for spent nuclear fuel

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has performed a review of SKB’s applications in relation to the Act on Nuclear Activities and the Authority’s regulations. On 23 January 2018, we submitted the above pronouncement to the Government, in which we recommend granting permission to SKB to construct a repository at Forsmark, located in Östhammar Municipality, in addition to an encapsulation facility, located in Oskarshamn Municipality.

In parallel with our examination of SKB’s applications in relation to the Act on Nuclear Activities, the Land and Environment Court of Nacka District Court has examined SKB’s applications in relation to the Environmental Code. In the Authority’s capacity as a statutory referral body to the Land and Environment Court, several of our experts in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection participated in autumn 2017 in the Court’s main hearings concerning SKB’s licence applications.

The Land and Environment Court and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority issued their respective statements to the Government on the same date, i.e. 23 January 2018. In our statement, we recommend licensing of SKB and that its activity should be considered permissible. In its pronouncement, the Land and Environment Court advises that additional documentation should be produced, particularly concerning the disposal canister’s long-term durability, as a prerequisite for considering the sought activity as permissible.

In June 2018, the Swedish Government gave SKB an opportunity to supplement the Environmental Code matter with additional information, as recommended by the Land and Environment Court. At the same time, the Government allowed SKB to deliver its opinion pertaining to its applications under the Act on Nuclear Activities. In March 2019, SKB submitted a supplementary report to the Government. Thereafter, the Government circulated this supplementary information for consideration, for example to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.

In our consultation response to the Government dated 30 September 2019, we state that SKB’s supplementary information reinforces the Authority’s previous standpoint that SKB has the potential to meet all of the Authority’s regulatory requirements relevant to the case.

It is for the Government of Sweden to take respective decisions on licensing under the Act on Nuclear Activities and the question of permissibility under the Environmental Code.

Extension of the pre-existing repository for short-lived radioactive waste (SFR)

In 2014, SKB submitted an application for permission to extend SFR, a pre-existing repository for short-lived radioactive waste. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s regulatory review of this licence application under the Act on Nuclear Activities is in progress, with completion planned in 2019.

In our capacity as a referral body to the Land and Environment Court, we have examined the application for permission to extend the SFR facility under the Environmental Code. On 17 January 2019, we submitted a consultation response to the Court in which we recommended approval of SKB’s licence application.

The application for permission to extend SFR is undergoing the same process as the licence applications for final disposal of used nuclear fuel. In this case, the Government, following statements issued by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the Land and Environment Court, takes the final decision on licensing and the question of permissibility under the Code.

International cooperation in the field of final disposal

SSM, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, takes part in international cooperation and research relating to final disposal, such as in the European Union, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (the IAEA), and with OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA).

In addition to these areas, SSM runs research and development projects together with government agencies in other countries. One example is STUK, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. STUK is the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s sister authority in Finland.