A spent nuclear fuel (SNF) encapsulation plant will be built alongside Sweden’s CLAB interim store. SKB, Sweden’s waste management company, has chosen the site and plans to submit a licence application for construction and operation in 2006.

CLAB is a central store that holds all Swedish nuclear utilities’ SNF in underground cooling ponds for 30 years. Adjacent to the CLAB building will be built an encapsulation plant where SNF will be dried and placed inside the nodular iron and copper canisters developed by SKB. The copper canisters will them be welded shut using the friction-stir technique.

The location of the country’s final SNF store has not yet been decided. SKB president Claes Thegerström told NEI that site investigations are still ongoing at Oskarshamn and Forsmark. Current activities at the sites include drilling 1000m down into bedrock and taking samples of groundwater. In order to get the best possible description of the site as the basis of the safety and environmental assessments that will form part of a 2008 licence application, SKB scientists are also testing the hydraulic conductivity, and mechanical strength of the rock. Regulatory approval for the design is expected in 2010, before construction in early 2011.

Encapsulation near to CLAB will simplify transportation of the SNF – even more so if nearby Oskarshamn is chosen for the repository – but a transport cask must still be developed to move the loaded canisters. The company has contracted several suppliers and is designing the casks in cooperation with them.

Credit: SKB

Storage pools at CLAB, the Swedish interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel

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