Swedish government must consider applications in parallel, says SKB

22 June 2021

Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) has urged the Swedish government to make a decision on its application for a used fuel encapsulation plant and final repository in combination with that for an expansion of its existing repository for low and intermediate-level waste. On 20 June, the government asked the radioactive waste management company how it intends to separate the application for the final repository.

A rendering of how the underground repository could appear (Image: SKB)

SKB submitted applications to build Sweden's first nuclear fuel repository and the encapsulation plant to the Radiation Safety Authority (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. The application concerns the disposal of 6000 capsules with a total of 12,000 tonnes of radioactive waste at a depth of about 500 metres. SKB 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 have been reviewed by the SSM and the Land and Environment Court. The SSM has considered issues 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 was based on the Environment Code. Both SSM and the Land and Environment Court submitted their respective positive opinions to the government on SKB's applications in January 2018.

Under the Swedish Environmental Code, before the government makes a final decision, it must consult with the municipalities of Oskarshamn and Östhammar, which have the power to veto the application. In June 2018, the municipal council in Oskarshamn voted in favour of SKB's plan to build the fuel encapsulation plant in the municipality. The municipal council of Östhammar in October 2020 approved the planned repository at Forsmark.

However, SKB said yesterday it has now been asked by the government how it intends to separate the application for the encapsulation plant and final repository.

"Now the government seems to want to split our application and only make decisions about the interim storage capacity," said Anna Porelius, head of communications at SKB.

She noted the government has all the documentation required to make decisions on both increasing interim storage and the final repository. "The case therefore does not need to be divided. The law requires that we take responsibility for both handling and final disposal, it is a coherent system. Oskarshamn municipality also opposes extended intermediate storage without a final repository, which we have great respect for."

Porelius said SKB will respond to the government explaining how it views the matter. "By dividing the case, we see shortcomings in how the case should be handled, and it is not something that SKB advocates. Our view is that the government can make a decision now and that no division of the matter is needed to keep up with the process that follows the government decision."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News