SKB granted a licence for the extended Clab

16 January 2008

Svensk Karnbranslehantering AB (SKB), the company responsible for storing Swedish nuclear waste, has been granted an operating licence by the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) for the extended central interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel (Clab) at Oskarshamn.


The operating licence allows SKB to operate an additional used fuel storage pool which has been constructed at Clab. The original storage pool was commissioned in 1985 and has a storage capacity for some 5000 tonnes of uranium (about 20,000 fuel assemblies from boiling water reactors, plus 2500 from pressurized water reactors).


With the addition of the second storage pool, Clab is now able to store some 8000 tonnes of used nuclear fuel. Currently some 4500 tonnes of fuel is stored at Clab. The facility now consists of two identical storage chambers with five storage pools in each section.


Used fuel will be stored under water in the pools, built in underground caverns some 30 metres below the ground surface, for some 40-50 years. It will then be encapsulated in copper and stainless steel canisters for final emplacement packed with bentonite clay in a 500 metre deep repository in granite.

Jorgen Lundsten, plant manager at Clab, said: "The project has taken several years and we are very happy that we can now start using the new part of the interim storage facility."


The start-up of the new storage pool has been delayed due to the rebuilding of the movement joints in the transport channel between the old and the new pool. The transport channel will allow fuel to be transferred from the old pool to the new one to enable planned maintenance work to be carried out. In addition, other work is also being conducted at Clab. For example, a new process computer system was recently installed and taken into operation after extensive testing.


A condition of SKI's approval of the operating licence is that SKB carries out an inspection program - including monitoring pool temperatures, pool movements and dose loads - and the results are documented and reported to the inspectorate.


SKB submitted an application to the SKI in November 2006 for a permit to construct and operate a used fuel encapsulation plant next to Clab. The new encapsulation facility and Clab will eventually be operated together. SKB does not expect the regulatory authorities or the government to make a final ruling on the application under the Nuclear Activities Act until after 2009, when the application for the final repository itself is submitted.