The review process

A party wanting to construct a repository for spent nuclear fuel – in this case, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) – must submit a licence application to the Swedish Government. SKB has submitted three applications in total, namely:

  • An application under the Act on Nuclear Activities for Clab (an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel) and an encapsulation facility in Oskarshamn
  • An application under the Act on Nuclear Activities for a spent fuel repository, including the site and method
  • An application under the Swedish Environmental Code covering the entire repository system (Clab, encapsulation facility and repository)

The Government has assigned the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) to examine SKB’s applications for compliance with current legislation. On 23 January 2018, SSM submitted its pronouncement to the Government recommending that the Government grant a licence to SKB. On this same date, the Land and Environment Court of Nacka District Court issued its pronouncement to the Government following its examination of the case's permissibility under the Environmental Code.

SSM's step-wise licensing process

When the Government of Sweden and the Court have decided on licensing, we continue to look into whether the applicant meets the relevant requirements. This means that SKB will need approval from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority for the construction phase of the repository, and before test operation and routine operation, and for decommissioning and closure, of the repository. These steps of the process focus on construction and operation of the spent fuel repository and encapsulation facility (Clink) as nuclear facilities. The Authority’s regulatory supervision of these facilities is a crucial aspect of ensuring the repository’s long-term safety.

This means that SKB must demonstrate to the Authority in each step of the construction and operation phases that the assumptions serving as the basis of the licence are still relevant.

A review process in steps is recommended by the IAEA, the United Nations’ atomic energy agency, in compliance with international practice.