Taiwan gets help from Swedish nuclear waste experts

9 July 2015

A subsidiary of Sweden's national radioactive waste management company, SKB International, has signed a three-year agreement to support Taiwan in drawing up plans for a final repository for spent nuclear fuel.

By 2017, national utility Taipower is required to submit a report to the Taiwanese government showing how the spent nuclear fuel from its six operating reactors will be dealt with.

SKB International will support Taipower and assist them in structuring the work of drawing up plans for a final repository. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of SKB and is responsible for providing international services based on SKB's programme.

Taiwan's intention is to use final repository techniques that correspond to the methods used in Sweden and Finland, which is known as the KBS-3 method. However, SKB noted that conditions in Taiwan differ from those in Sweden and Finland; for example there is a much greater risk of earthquakes in Taiwan, although future ice ages do not need to be taken into account in repository design.

A major element of SKB International's work will involve knowledge transfer to support the design of the final repository system and to enable safety assessments. As such, seminars will be arranged with participants from both Taipower and the two major research institutes that will be responsible for much of the work.

"This is the largest agreement that SKB International has ever signed and evidence of the international demand for Swedish expertise," says Hans Forsström at SKB International AB, who has been involved in negotiating the contract.

According to Taiwan's current plans the final repository is expected to start operating in 2065. While this seems a long way off Forsström feels the timetable is "still an ambitious one."

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