Swedish regulator approves waste research programme

3 April 2017

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has recommended the government approve a research and development programme on radioactive waste management submitted by radioactive waste management company, Svensk Kärnbränslehantering (SKB), on behalf of the reactor owners. Sweden's nuclear industry must submit a new programme every three years for R&D covering safe management of waste from operations and decommissioning of those plants. The programme must contain an overview of all measures that may be necessary and specify in detail the measures intended to be implemented within at least six years.

SKB submitted the R&D Programme 2016 to SSM in September 2016, which 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 on the 2013 R&D Programme, the government said SKB and the reactor licensees must continue to consult with SSM on matters relating to development of decommissioning plans and dismantling studies before reporting on subsequent programmes. It also asked SKB to ensure improved clarity and structure in future programmes.

SSM’s assessment of the 2016 programme said the reported work "is sufficiently comprehensive". It also said 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 analyst Bengt Hedberg said, "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."

SSM noted that an account of the programme for the development of a repository for long-lived radioactive waste has been delayed. SKB said in 2013 programme that a safety evaluation of its conceptual design for a repository was to be completed in 2016 and reported in 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  2019 R&D Programme.

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