Some 68% of Swedes are aware that a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel is being planned, but over half say they want to learn more about it, according to a new poll carried out on behalf of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).
The online survey of 3500 Swedes carried out in December/January found that while 40% are aware of the method that has been proposed for the repository, only 10% know that it is planned to be constructed in Forsmark.
"More than 40 per cent of those surveyed are aware of the method selected by the nuclear power industry, in other words the copper canisters to be emplaced 500 metres underground in the bedrock," says Ansi Gerhardsson, head of the section for disposal of radioactive waste. "The fact that so many people are aware of the method is probably a consequence of media coverage of the debate over the potential for copper corrosion within the proposed repository."
The survey also found that 'few people' are aware that the Swedish Government will ultimately take the decision as to whether the repository can be built.
The 'vast majority' of respondents also stated that they had received information about the repository from the media, which is also the general public's preferred sources of information. However, nearly half the respondents said that they would also like information sent directly to their home, SSM reports.
"Just over 50 per cent want to learn more about the repository, mainly regarding the risks involved and the design and construction of the facility," it says.
The regulator also noted that it is now 'reviewing its role and approach to informing the general public about radiation safety issues surrounding final disposal and the Authority's processing of the repository application.'
In March 2011, SKB submitted a licence application to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority for construction of this geological repository, located in Forsmark, Östhammar Municipality. The application is currently being reviewed by SSM and in autumn it will submit its viewpoints to the land and environmental court, which is responsible for performing an examination of the repository application under the Environmental Code. SSM will also submit a statement of its views to the Swedish Government in 2015.
Photo: Montage showing how the surface part of the final repository for spent nuclear fuel may look at Forsmark (Source: SKB)