Swedish repository application accepted for review

18 December 2015

The application for construction of a used nuclear fuel encapsulation plant and repository in Sweden is now complete, the Land and Environment Court in Stockholm has decided. It will now publish the application and proceed with the review process.

Sweden's radioactive waste management company Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) submitted its application to build the country's first repository for used nuclear fuel, together with a plant to encapsulate the fuel prior to disposal, to Sweden's Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, SSM) in March 2011.

Sweden's used nuclear fuel is currently under temporary storage at the interim storage facility (Clab) in Oskarshamn. SKB plans to build a used fuel repository at Forsmark in Östhammars municipality. The method that has been developed involves first encapsulating the fuel in copper canisters, which are then sealed and placed in a system of tunnels about 500 metres deep in the solid bedrock. Here they will be embedded in Bentonite clay.

SKB's application has since been examined by SSM and the Land and Environment Court, who since its submission have requested additional information to support the application. The court will assess the application under Sweden's Environmental Code, while SSM will examine it under the country's Nuclear Activities Act.

With the Land and Environment Court's decision that the application is now complete, the application will be published. Copies will be circulated for consideration and comment to the municipalities of Oskarshamn and Östhammars, environmental organizations, the Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste and regulatory authorities.

According to the current timetable of the Land and Environment Court, the application will be released in January and the main hearing on it will take place between October and December 2016.

SKB president Christopher Eckerberg said, "This is an important milestone in the permitting process and another step on the way to fulfilling our mission for the long-term safe management of Swedish used nuclear fuel." He added, "The review of our application now goes ahead and we look forward to the next main hearing."

Following the main hearing, the court and SSM will submit their opinions to the government.

However, before the government makes a final decision on the application, it will consult with the municipalities of Oskarshamn and Östhammars, which have the power to veto the application.

Once the government has made its decision, the application will again be referred to SSM and the court, which will stipulate the terms and conditions for the facilities.

SKB currently anticipates starting construction of the repository and encapsulation plant sometime in the early 2020s. The facilities are expected to take some ten years to complete.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News