The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) said on 21 June it had updated its national plan for responsible and safe management of used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, now and in the future. The first national plan was developed in 2015. Since then, the framework of laws and regulations governing nuclear activities and the handling of radioactive products has changed. There are also changes in the Swedish nuclear power programme that affect the content.
“The challenges with waste management are highlighted more clearly in the updated plan. There is also a greater focus on decommissioning and decommissioning of reactors as part of the changes in the Swedish nuclear power programme, said Sara Sundin, SSM investigator and project manager for the work on the update.
Although the system for disposing of all radioactive waste in general works well, there are some challenges associated with waste that does not come from nuclear power plants, SSM noted. “Corresponding requirements for common solutions for disposal, which exist for nuclear power plant waste, do not exist for such nuclear waste that does not originate from the nuclear power plants or for non-nuclear waste. The final repository is planned based on the reactors' planned operating times and decommissioning, but other radioactive waste will probably be produced even after the final repository is planned to be closed.”
Sundin pointed out that some types of waste are problematic to handle. The private actors currently responsible for their care see a financial risk in taking responsibility and may refuse to accept the waste, she explained. This year, SSM was also assigned by the government to report on various ways information and knowledge about the final repository for nuclear fuel can be secured over a long period of time. The report must be submitted by 1 October. The financing of legacy waste is another challenge and SSM has been given a government assignment to analyse the division of responsibilities for this waste and also who should bear the costs.
In the updated plan, changed regulations are highlighted. These mean, among other things, that the state's secondary responsibility for security has been clarified, SSM said. Other changes that have affected the content of the updated plan include:
- New radiation protection law from 2018
- SSM’s tasks within the financing system were transferred to the Debt Office in 2018. An updated financing law and a new financing ordinance entered into force in 2017.
- Changes in the national nuclear programme: the decision to decommission the four oldest reactors in Oskarshamn (O1 and O2) and Ringhals (R1 and R2) before the end of 2020.
- As a result of environmental assessments and approved safety reports, large-scale dismantling and decommissioning of the previously closed reactors in Barsebäck, Oskarshamn (O1 and O2) and Ågesta began in 2020.
- In January 2018, after a final review of Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB's (SKB) applications for an encapsulation plant and a final repository for used fuel, SSM submitted its opinion to the government for a decision.