Swedish regulator approves waste R&D program

31 March 2017

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has recommended the government approve the nuclear power industry's latest program for research and development on radioactive waste management. The country's nuclear industry must submit such a program every three years.

Under Swedish law, the owners of the country's nuclear power plants are required every third year to report on their programs for R&D covering safe management of waste from operations and decommissioning of those plants. The program must contain an overview of all measures that may be necessary and specify in detail the measures that are intended to be implemented within at least six years.

Sweden's radioactive waste management company, Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB), on behalf of the reactor owners, submitted the R&D Program 2016 to SSM in September 2016. The program has since been referred for consideration and comment to regulatory authorities, universities and institutes of technology as well as the municipalities concerned and several other stakeholders. The period for comment concluded at the end of December.

In its decision concerning the R&D Program 2013, the government imposed the condition that SKB and the reactor licensees must, prior to reporting on subsequent R&D Programs, continue to consult with SSM on matters relating to development of decommissioning plans and dismantling studies. It also requested SKB ensure improved clarity and structure in future R&D Programs.

In its assessment of the R&D Program 2016, SSM said the reported work "is sufficiently comprehensive". It also said the planned measures for the safe management of radioactive waste and used fuel, in addition to the safe decommissioning and dismantling of facilities, is sufficient to meet legal requirements.

SSM noted that an account of the program for the development of a repository for long-lived radioactive waste has been delayed. SKB said in the R&D Program 2013 that a safety evaluation of its conceptual design for a repository was to be completed in 2016 and reported in the R&D Program 2016. SKB's revised plans, it said, imply that the safety evaluation will be finalised during 2018 and accounted for no earlier than in the R&D Program 2019.

SSM analyst Bengt Hedberg said, "We recommend that the government approve the program. It fulfils statutory requirements and our assessment is that they have complied with the requirements imposed by the Swedish government in the decision on the R&D Program 2013."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News