Construction licence for ESS

23 July 2014

The Swedish nuclear regulator has issued a conditional licence for construction of the European Spallation Source (ESS) facility in Lund. The research facility will feature the world's most powerful neutron source.

ESS facility 250 (ESS)
An artist's impression of how the ESS would appear (Image: ESS/Henning Larsen Architects)

European Spallation Source AB - the organization running the project - submitted its construction licence application to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, or SSM) in March 2012. The SSM has now granted it permission to start building the facility. The licence also allows the organization to import, acquire and own "technical devices and other components for generation of ionizing radiation," but not to actually install them.

SSM inspector Peter Frisk said, "We have assessed that reasonable preconditions are in place for ESS AB's future fulfilment of the requirements we impose for test operation and routine operation. This is why we have determined that they may continue and begin constructing the facility."

However, he noted, "The licence is linked to a number of special conditions for the ESS facility in areas such as physical protection, emergency preparedness work and management of radioactive waste." The SSM requires ESS AB "to continue to develop its basis for operation" in all areas subject to its licensing review work.

ESS AB has already gained approval from the Swedish Environmental Court for construction and operation of the facility. It has also received a building permit from the Lund municipality. Another licence from the SSM must be acquired before installation of the accelerator and other components that can generate ionizing radiation. Further licences from the SSM are required before test operation and routine operation of the facility can begin.

ESS AB says that groundbreaking for the facility will take place in the coming months. Engineering company Skanska has been selected as partner for future civil works for the project. Completion is scheduled around 2018-2019, and the facility should be fully operational by 2025.

Earlier this month, funding for the project was finalized, with 13 European countries agreeing to participate through a combination of cash and in-kind contributions. Sweden and Denmark are the host nations for the project. Construction costs of the ESS facility are estimated at about €1.8 billion ($2.4 billion), with annual operating costs of some €140 million ($188 million).

The ESS will be used for material research and life sciences. It is designed around a linear accelerator in which protons are accelerated and collide with a heavy metal target. By this process, intense pulses of neutrons are emitted and led through beamlines to experimental stations, where research is done on different materials. According to ESS AB, the ESS will provide neutron beams up to 30 times brighter than any current neutron source.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News