Sweden Government Approves SKB’s plans for final repository for spent fuel at Forsmark

Press release from Ministry of Environment in Sweden on 27 January 2022: Government to permit final disposal of spent nuclear fuel at Forsmark

The Government has today decided to permit the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel at Forsmark in Östhammar Municipality. The Government has also decided to permit construction of the encapsulation plant that is needed to handle the spent nuclear fuel in Oskarshamn Municipality.

“Sweden and Finland are the first countries in the world to take responsibility for nuclear waste. This will be a secure spent fuel repository that will provide safety for both the environment and people. In addition, it provides long-term conditions for the Swedish electricity supply and Swedish jobs,” says Minister for Climate and the Environment Annika Strandhäll.

The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) applied under the Swedish Environmental Code and the Nuclear Activities Act for a permit for a cohesive system for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel. The Government considers that the applications meet the requirements of the Swedish Environmental Code and the Nuclear Activities Act and therefore permits the construction of the encapsulation plant and the spent fuel repository.

“The technology and the capacity are available. It is irresponsible to leave nuclear waste in water tanks year after year without taking a decision. We must not pass on this responsibility to our children and grandchildren. Our generation must take responsibility for our waste. This is why the Government is permitting the next step in the review process. Everyone can feel confident that the process will continue through the land and environmental court as will the step-by-step review under the responsibility of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority,” says Ms Strandhäll.

The method used, KBS-3, relies on a combination of three barriers – the copper canisters, the Bentonite clay around them and the bedrock itself – to protect people and the environment from harmful radiation. The Government supports the expert assessment of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority that this is the best possible technology for final disposal and that the tripple barrier method is safe and meets the requirements of the legislation, even over a very long time perspective.

“Final disposal has been thoroughly investigated and in preparation for a long time. Research has been going on since the 1970s. The courts and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority reviewed the application between 2011 and 2018, when the matter was handed over to the Government. Thanks to extensive research, preparation and safe technology, the Government has now been able to make this decision. The process is continuing and the method is being refined with further research and development,” says Ms Strandhäll.

In accordance with the Swedish Environmental Code, the Government is now handing over the case to the Land and Environmental court at Nacka District Court, which will issue a permit and stipulate detailed conditions for the operation. With the Government’s decision, SKB has received a permit under the Nuclear Activities Act. The decision is conditional on the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority conducting a continued step-by-step review, in which future research and technology development will be part of the continued process.