Decision on increased interim storage for spent nuclear fuel
The Government has decided to allow a capacity increase of the interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, pending a repository for final disposal being constructed and put into operation. An intermediate decision on interim storage is necessary to safeguard the energy supply in the coming years.
The Government is prioritising and working as swiftly as possible to prepare the decision on the repository. In the Government’s assessment, it will be a matter of months before such a decision can be made. However, the permit process following a government decision will take additional time. Without a valid permit for increased interim storage in place before the end of 2023, Sweden’s electricity generation could be adversely affected. This is why an intermediate decision on interim storage is necessary.
“With this decision to increase the storage capacity, we are taking responsibility for Sweden’s energy supply. Without this decision, we would risk serious consequences for society if essential electricity generation were to halt abruptly,” says Minister for Environment and Climate Per Bolund.
The Government is examining how spent nuclear fuel and other nuclear waste will be disposed of. Such waste is extremely hazardous and must be stored away from people and the environment for up to 100 000 years. As part of the disposal process, capacity at the Clab interim storage facility in Oskarshamn needs to be increased.
“The municipalities of Oskarhamn and Östhammar are assuming a great responsibility and have worked intensively on the issue of disposal. The Government understands their position, but I would like to emphasise that an intermediate decision on increased interim storage does not mean that the preparation of other parts of the question of disposal will cease,” says Mr Bolund.
In the next step, the Government will refer the evaluation of new research on the protective capability of the copper canister in relation to both copper corrosion and the planned cast iron insert to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste. In the consultation process, the Government wants these authorities to determine whether the article on copper corrosion and the research to which the article refers provide new information that may be of significance to the Government’s decision on the case.
Press Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister Per Bolund
Phone (switchboard) +46 8 405 10 00
Mobile +46 730 77 94 69
email to Josefin Sasse
Key facts: Clab – the central interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel
At the central interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, Clab, spent nuclear fuel is stored in water tanks pending disposal. Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) has a permit to temporarily store 8 000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel in the Clab facility. The applications for a cohesive system for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and waste include a permit to increase the storage capacity at Clab to 11 000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel. The application concerns increasing capacity by storing fuel more closely in the tanks, i.e. not through new construction or expansion of the existing facility.
SKB has announced that the maximum permitted capacity at Clab – 8 000 tonnes of spent fuel – will be reached at the end of 2023.
Key facts: The Government’s examination of the final repository
Svensk kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) has applied for a permit for a cohesive system for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and waste in Oskarshamn and Östhammar municipalities. The application concerns two facilities: an underground repository in Östhammar and a nuclear waste encapsulation facility in Oskarshamn. The encapsulation facility would be built on top of the existing interim storage facility (Clab) in Oskarshamn. The repository is planned for the bedrock at Forsmark in Östhammar Municipality.
The repository for spent nuclear fuel must be examined and approved under both the Swedish Environmental Code and the Nuclear Activities Act. The application has been examined by the Land and Environment Court and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, and is now awaiting consideration by the Government. The case as a whole is one of the most extensive and complex ever in the area of the environment.
It is the Government that decides on permits under the Nuclear Activities Act, and such permits may have conditions attached. Under the Swedish Environmental Code, the Government must examine whether the activities are permissible. If the Government decides that all or parts of the case are permissible, those parts will be referred to the Land and Environment Court, which will continue the processing and take a decision on a permit. Such a permit can be appealed to the Land and Environment Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court (although leave to appeal is required there). The Government’s decision on permissibility can be subject to judicial review by the Supreme Administrative Court.
The period of time between a government decision and a legally valid permit depends on factors such as the complexity of the case, whether it needs to be supplemented in any way and whether, and to what extent, it is appealed.