Skanska collaborates with SKB on repository expansion

24 July 2023

Sweden's radioactive waste management company Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) has signed a collaboration agreement with construction firm Skanska regarding the expansion of the existing SFR final repository for low and intermediate-level waste at Forsmark.

The blue area shows where SKB plans to extend the existing SFR repository (Image: SKB)

"We are very pleased to have chosen Skanska as a collaboration partner for the expansion of SFR," said Jessica Palmqvist, acting CEO at SKB. "After many years of planning and environmental tests, we have now taken a big step forward to realise an expanded SFR. We are now awaiting approval from the Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) before we can start the excavation work."

"We at Skanska feel very happy to be part of a collaborative project with SKB, to expand SFR and are at the same time humbled by the responsibility it brings with extra high demands on quality and safety," said Lars Lindberg, Vice President of Roads and Construction at Skanska Sweden AB. "It is an incredibly exciting and long-term construction project, we look forward to being part of it."

The SFR repository is situated 60 metres below the bottom of the Baltic Sea and began operations in 1988. The facility comprises four 160-metre long rock vaults and a chamber in the bedrock with a 50-metre high concrete silo for the most radioactive waste. Two parallel kilometre-long access tunnels link the facility to the surface. The facility currently has a total final disposal capacity of about 63,000 cubic metres of waste.

Most of the short-lived waste deposited in the SFR comes from Swedish nuclear power plants, but radioactive waste from hospitals, veterinary medicine, research and industry is also deposited within it.

SKB applied in December 2014 to triple the size of the repository, to about 180,000 cubic metres. The application was submitted to the government by the Land and Environment Court and SSM in November 2019. In April 2021, the municipality of Östhammar, where the SFR is located, also approved the extension. Following a government decision in December 2021 to approve the application, the matter was referred back to SSM and the Court.

SKB received an environmental permit from the Land and Environment Court for the expansion in December 2022. That permit regulates, for example, noise and transport.

In April this year, SKB submitted an application to SSM to extend the SFR.

Only after SSM's approval can SKB start the work to excavate rock for the extension of the SFR. Planned start of construction is autumn 2024.

The plan is that the repository, when extended, will have six new rock vaults, 240-275 metres long. The intention is to construct the extension at a depth of 120-140 metres, level with the lowest part of the current SFR repository.

The project will be carried out in two phases divided into different stages. In the initial stage, earthworks, water treatment plant and other infrastructure will be put in place. In the second stage, tunnelling work in the rock underground will be carried out.

The expansion is expected to take six years to complete.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News