Swedish Radiation Safety Authority submits proposals for existing and future nuclear power

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has today finalized the assignment from the government to investigate how laws, regulations and other measures can be developed for existing and future nuclear power.

SSM proposes a number of changes to the legislation for it to be applicable to new reactor technologies and operating models, and proposes the introduction of a process for pre-licensing review of new reactor designs.

The government has assigned the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) to investigate the preconditions for the use of existing and new nuclear power. Within the assignment, the authority has identified a need for development of the regulatory framework for new reactor designs, based both on established and more advanced technologies. An analysis has also been made of the prerequisites for licensing, including review of the same reactor type for possible construction at several sites, and how this can be affected by international cooperation and harmonization.

In a first report on the assignment, the SSM stated that there is a legal framework and other prerequisites in place for further operation of the existing nuclear power plants as long as the facilities are safe. This second, final report now complements the first report with further changes to the legislation and other possible measures.

“With the existing proposal for a new nuclear act and the added proposals that the authority is now presenting, we see that a possible licensing process for new nuclear reactors can be made more efficient without any reduction in the required level of safety”, says Michael Knochenhauer, Acting Director General of SSM.

“We also propose that a process for early assessment of new reactor technology is implemented in Sweden. Together with increased international cooperation, a process for pre-licensing review can contribute the authority's ability and readiness to perform licensing activities in an efficient manner, and reduces the risk that fundamental issues or impediments to grant a permit are identified late in the design process”, Michael Knochenhauer says.

SSM concludes that the existing regulations to a large extent are applicable to new reactor technologies.

“The requirements are mainly performance based and technology neutral, and can therefore to a large extent be applied to most types of reactors, although certain adjustments and additions may be needed, especially for other types of reactors than light water reactors”, says Aino Obenius Mowitz, the SSM project manager for the government assignment.

“We have also identified a need for further investigations and knowledge development to support the interpretation and application of the regulations to different reactor technologies, which will be taken into account in the authority's ongoing work to review and develop new regulations”, Aino Obenius Mowitz says.

Some of the proposals from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority:

• Removed restrictions on the maximum number of permitted reactors in operation, as well as equal conditions for different types of energy sources regarding possible siting and municipal veto, through changes in the environmental code.
• Enhanced flexibility in the legal framework for different reactor technologies and new deployment and operational models.
• Clarification and simplification of the licensing process, e.g. by removing double application of the environmental code.
• Extended and clarified mandate for the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority's to decide on permits and regulations.
• Increased international cooperation and opportunities for knowledge developing about new reactor technologies, for example by introducing a pre-licensing review process.

Additional information: Aino Obenius Mowitz, investigator and project manager at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority's unit for national standardization, via the authority's press hotline, tel. +46 (8) 799 40 20.