The licence application by Sweden's radioactive waste management company for an integrated system for the final disposal of used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste has been endorsed by the country's Radiation Safety Authority (SSM). A final decision to licence the facilities will be made next year.
|An artist's impression of the planned repository concept, with its 66-kilometre network of underground tunnels (Image: SKB)
Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) submitted applications to build the country's first repository for used nuclear fuel, together with a plant to encapsulate the fuel prior to disposal, to the SSM in March 2011. The integrated facility - the encapsulation plant and the Clab interim storage facility - is referred to in SKB's application as Clink. SKB has since made both clarifications and additions to the applications. The company has also submitted an application to extend the storage capacity of the Clab facility from the current 8000 tonnes of fuel to 11,000 tonnes.
The applications are being reviewed by the SSM and the Land and Environment Court in Stockholm. The SSM is considering questions of nuclear safety and radiation at the facilities as laid down in the country's Nuclear Activities Act. The review undertaken by the Land and Environment Court is based on the Environment Code.
In March, the SSM gave a positive assessment of SKB's application for its planned used nuclear fuel encapsulation plant next to the Clab interim storage facility in Oskarshamn.
The regulator has now also assessed that SKB has the potential to comply with SSM's nuclear safety and radiation protection requirements for the final disposal of used fuel in its proposed repository at Forsmark. The SSM has recommended to the Land and Environment Court that the repository system "should be deemed a permissible activity according to the Swedish Environmental Code".
The SSM said it based its assessment on SKB having sufficiently demonstrated: the rationale behind the choice of Forsmark as the preferred location for the repository; the rationale behind the preferred method for final disposal; and its capability meet radiation safety requirements during the development and operation of the encapsulation and repository facilities.
Ansi Gerhardsson, head of radiation safety at SSM, said: "We assess that SKB, at this stage of the authorization process, has adequately demonstrated the repository can be safe over the long term from the perspective of nuclear safety and radiation protection."
She added, "The Authority carries out a stepwise authorization process, which means that if the Swedish government decides that a licence is to be granted, we will at each stage in the process examine whether SKB's repository fulfils our safety requirements. For future authorization steps, SKB will need to carry out further development of its safety analysis report to demonstrate the repository's radiological long-term safety."
SKB president Christopher Eckerberg said, "SKB's safety assessment shows that we have the conditions to build a secure repository that meets regulatory requirements for safety after closure. This has also now been confirmed by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority."
"For the next steps in the licensing process, SKB's research and technology development will continue, partly in cooperation with Finland, where our method has already been approved by the authorities," he said.
The SSM is scheduled to issue its final opinion on the repository and encapsulation plant in 2017. The final decision to authorize the project will be made by the government, which will base its decision on the assessments of both the SSM and the Land and Environment Court. However, before the government makes a final decision, it will consult with the municipalities of Oskarshamn and Östhammars, which have the power to veto the application.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News