Repository for short-lived radioactive waste (SFR)

On 19 December 2014, SKB (Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB) submitted a licence application to SSM, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, for permission under the Act on Nuclear Activities to extend SFR. SFR is a repository for short-lived radioactive waste. The Authority has undertaken a regulatory review of SKB’s licence application. On 22 October 2019, we submitted our pronouncement to the Swedish Government. In the statement, we recommend approval of the permission sought by SKB for an extension of SFR and its continued operation. It is for the Government of Sweden to take a decision on whether or not to grant the authorisation.

Adjacent to the SFR repository is a store where low and intermediate level radioactive waste (LILW) is kept. This site is located in the vicinity of the Forsmark nuclear power plant. Waste stored here originates from Swedish nuclear power plants, industry, health and medical services, veterinary care, and research. SFR will need to have an extension constructed so that it has capacity to receive larger amounts of waste, first and foremost from dismantling of Swedish nuclear power plants.

SSM has performed a safety review on the part of the repository

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM, has undertaken a regulatory review of the licence application submitted by SKB to the Authority for permission to extend the SFR facility.

The SFR repository is to be used for safe disposal of LILW. Disposal here implies that any leakage of radioactive substances from SFR is kept limited, thus meeting the requirements imposed for protection of humans and the environment. Our review work included an assessment of not only the selected site, but also the methods selected, for their regulatory compliance in terms of safe final disposal. A repository must not expose people or the environment to more radiation than one-hundredth of the level of background radiation. This restriction applies now and for the protection of future generations.

Pronouncement to the Government for its decision-making

On 22 October 2019, we submitted our pronouncement to the Swedish Government. In this statement, we recommend approval of the permission sought by SKB for an extension and continued operation of SFR. It is for the Government of Sweden to take a decision on whether or not to grant the authorisation.

Land and Environment Court

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority is not the only body that has reviewed SKB’s planning for an extension of the pre-existing repository for short-lived radioactive waste, the SFR repository at Forsmark. The Land and Environment Court has examined SKB’s applications in relation to the Environmental Code. In parallel, in our capacity as an authority in the fields of nuclear safety and radiation protection, we have served as a statutory referral body for the Court’s review.

Serving as this referral body, we have reviewed the permission sought under the Environmental Code. On 17 January 2019, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority submitted a consultation response to the Land and Environment Court of Nacka District Court, in which we recommended approval of SKB’s licence application for an extension of SFR.

On 13 November 2019, the Land and Environment Court submitted its statement to the Swedish Government, in which the Court recommends approval of the licence application.

The Government of Sweden shall take decisions on the question of permissibility and whether or not to grant the respective authorisation.

If the Government grants SKB the permission to extend SFR, and the municipality in question for the siting, Östhammar, is positively inclined to this decision, the repository’s capacity will increase from approximately 63,000 cubic metres to around 200,000 cubic metres.