Swedish radioactive waste management company Svensk Kärnbränslehantering (SKB) said a ground-breaking ceremony has taken place for a new geology building in Forsmark. The building will be a centre for the collection and evaluation of data from surveys and site monitoring on the Forsmark peninsula. Modern construction technology and durable materials will be used in the construction of the building, which will be completed by the spring of 2025.

Currently SKB has a number of projects underway in Forsmark including the SFR – final repository for short-lived radioactive waste, as well as the final repository for used fuel from Sweden’s NPPs. The SFR, which began operations in 1988, comprises four 160-metre-long rock vaults and a chamber in the bedrock with a 50-metre-high concrete silo for the most radioactive waste with a capacity of 63,000 cubic metres. Two parallel kilometre-long access tunnels link the facility to the surface. SKB plans to start work in autumn 2024 to triple the size of the repository, to about 180,000 cubic metres.

SKB applied in 2011 to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM – Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) to build Sweden's first used fuel repository and an encapsulation plant. In January 2022, the Minister of Climate & Environment approved the construction. The repository will be used for the disposal of 6000 capsules with a total of 12,000 tonnes of radioactive waste at a depth of about 500 metres.

The new geology building will be of great importance for these construction projects. Sustainability will play a key role in the construction of the building, including the use of green concrete with lower carbon dioxide emissions will be used. The frame and facade will consist of wood and the building will have a so-called sedum roof, a roof with living plants on top of the sealing layer. There will also be an opportunity for electric car charging. The goal is to reach a silver level according to the environmental certification for environmental building.

SKB CEO Stefan Engdahl noted: “We have seen a need to secure our premises for future major projects and then it is important for us to build in a sustainable way with regard to the environment in both construction technology and material selection.”

The geology building, which will be constructed by Norwegian contractor Veidekke, will have two floors and will include a workshop for research activities, storage space for drill cores and field equipment, a chemistry laboratory, modern office space and changing rooms. The property is designed with appropriate gates for vehicles and equipment as well as adjacent outdoor areas.

The plan is for the building to be erected in early 2024 and commissioned in the spring of 2025. The following summer, existing equipment will be transferred from the old premises and operations are scheduled to start in August 2025. Veidekke signed an agreement with SKB in October 2023 to build the geology building under a turnkey valued at SEK55m ($5.3m).

Image: The ground-breaking ceremony for the new geology building in Forsmark (courtesy of Veidekke)