International peer review of repository application

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has performed a review of SKB’s (i.e. Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB) application for construction of a repository for spent nuclear fuel, and recommends approval of this application, as stated in our pronouncement to the Government on 23 January 2018. A peer review has also been performed by OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) concerning the permission sought. According to the NEA, SKB’s licence application is, on the whole, well substantiated.

OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency is a forum for international cooperation on topics concerning nuclear power and nuclear waste. The NEA has 33 member countries with the most advanced nuclear technology infrastructures. One of the NEA’s tasks is to help achieve a shared understanding between the countries on the state of knowledge relating to radioactive waste management. The Agency also promotes progress in the field.

In the summer of 2012, the NEA issued its final report representing the consensus view of the review team concerning SKB’s application for construction of a repository. On the whole, the NEA is positively inclined to SKB being granted permission; however, the Agency suggests areas that SKB should develop further.

Sweden provided funding for the NEA’s peer review of SKB’s application for permission to construct a spent nuclear fuel repository. The international peer review was conducted at the request of the Government of Sweden.

Independent experts reviewed the licence application

A key aspect of scrutinising a repository application is the experts’ independence in relation to the nuclear power industry. For this reason, the NEA was under an obligation to notify the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority if there was reason to believe that its experts had ties to SKB, or in some other way might be unsuitable as reviewers.

The NEA’s review team was specifically set up to scrutinise SKB’s repository application. Comprising ten international specialists, the review team had members originating from academia, the nuclear power industry, government, research institutes, special interest groups and international bodies.

The specialists on the review team, from Europe, Japan and North America, were led by Michael Sailer of the Oeko-Institut, a German research institute for applied ecology.