SKB wants single government decision on final repository and intermediate storage expansion24 June 2021
Sweden’s Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) has pressed the Swedish government for a decision on its application for a used fuel encapsulation plant and final repository in combination with an expansion of its existing repository for low and intermediate-level waste. This was in response to a 20 June request from the government asking SKB how it intends to separate the application for the final repository.
SKB submitted applications to build Sweden's first nuclear fuel repository and the encapsulation plant to the Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) in March 2011. The integrated facility - the encapsulation plant and the Clab interim storage facility - is referred to in SKB's application as Clink. It concerns disposal of 6000 capsules with a total of 12,000 tonnes of radioactive waste at a depth of about 500 metres. SKB also submitted an application to extend the storage capacity of the Clab facility from the current 8000 tonnes of fuel to 11,000 tonnes.
Both applications have been reviewed by the SSM and the Land and Environment Court. SSM looks at issues of nuclear safety and radiation at the facilities as specified in the Nuclear Activities Act. The Land and Environment Court’s review was based on the Environment Code. Both submitted their positive opinions to the government in January 2018.
Sweden’s Environmental Code stipulates that the government must consult with local municipalities (Oskarshamn and Östhammar) before it makes a final decision. In June 2018, the municipal council in Oskarshamn voted in favour of SKB's plan to build the fuel encapsulation plant in the municipality and the municipal council of Östhammar in October 2020 approved the planned repository at Forsmark.
Anna Porelius, head of communications at SKB noted on 20 June that SKB had applied for permission to build a system for handling and final disposal of used fuel. “The application includes the final repository in Forsmark, an encapsulation plant and extended storage of 11,000 tonnes in our existing intermediate warehouse in Oskarshamn, she said. “Now the government seems to want to split our application and only make decisions about the interim storage capacity.”
She added that the government has all the documentation required to make decisions on both increased interim storage and final repository. “The case therefore does not need to be divided. The law requires that we take responsibility for both handling and final disposal, it is a coherent system.”
She said SKB will answer the government and explain its views. “It is a matter of processes of this kind being carried out efficiently, expeditiously and legally. By dividing the case, we see shortcomings in how the case should be handled, and it is not something that SKB advocates.” She thinks the government “can make a decision now and that no division of the matter is needed to keep up with the process that follows the government decision”.