Government backs Swedish waste fee hike

19 December 2014

The Swedish government has backed the nuclear regulator's recommendation for an almost doubling of the fees paid by utilities into the country's nuclear waste fund over the 2015-2017 period.

In June, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, or SSM) recommended to the government that the fee for 2015-2017 should be set at 3.8 öre (0.49 US cents) per kWh of nuclear electricity produced. The current level is 2.2 öre (0.29 US cents) per kWh.

Repository expansion

SKB has today applied to SSM and the Land and Environmental Court to triple the size of the existing short-lives radioactive waste (SFR) facility at Forsmark.

After the extension, the SFR will be almost three times its current size, with a total capacity of 171,000 cubic metres of waste. The extended part of the repository, which began operating in 1988, will consist of six new rock chambers.

SKB CEO Christopher Eckerberg said, "We are now tackling a step closer towards the aim of being able to deal with radioactive waste both from operations and from decommissioning of Swedish nuclear power plants."

The ministry of environment announced yesterday that it supports an increase in the fees to 4.0 öre (0.52 US cents) per kWh.

The ministry said, "The reason for the fee increase is mainly due to the expected increased costs of decommissioning and disposal as reported by industry, while the nuclear waste fund's future performance is expected to be low and that the contributions paid will be lower than earlier forecasts proved."

SSM assesses the amount Sweden's nuclear generators pay into the fund every three years. It bases its assessment partly on estimates from the Swedish spent fuel management company Svensk Karnbranslehantering AB (SKB).

According to SKB's latest cost calculations, total decommissioning and waste disposal costs are about SEK 136 billion ($20 billion). However, SSM said SKB may have underestimated the cost of decommissioning and disposal from Sweden's nuclear power industry by at least SEK 11 billion ($1.6 billion).

SKB is a utility-owned organization with the responsibility to manage Sweden's radioactive waste. Anyone who has a permit to own or operate a nuclear facility that generates radioactive waste must pay a waste fee. Fees also apply to research and development activities. As well as dealing with wastes, the fees will also be used for decommissioning facilities.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News