Utilities Vattenfall, Uniper and Fortum, which operate the reactors, warned this month that Clab would soon be full and Sweden’s six reactors at three nuclear stations – Forsmark, Oskarshamn and Ringhals – might have to shut down as a result.
“The government decided today to allow an expansion of capacity at Clab,” news agency TT reported environment minister Per Bolund saying.
Johan Dasht, chief executive officer of nuclear fuel management company SKB, operator of Clab, said the company found it difficult to understand why the government has approved the expansion of Clab without making a decision on a final repository and the “entire disposal system”.
He said: “This means increased risks of Clab becoming full before we get all the permits in place” [for final disposal].
He said Clab is part of a coherent system and warned that the government is getting ahead of Oskarshamn municipality, which has opposed increasing capacity at Clab without a decision on a final repository. SKB has said key organisations, including regulator SSM, want the applications to be considered together.
Sweden has still to decide on long-term storage of nuclear waste. SKB filed an application for a permit to build the repository in 2011 after a site at Forsmark – close to the Forsmark nuclear power station and about 140 km north of Stockholm – was chosen in 2009. The application also includes plans for an encapsulation plant in Oskarshamn.
In 1980, Swedes voted to phase out nuclear power, but increased demand for energy and the need to address climate change led to a change of tack and in 2010 parliament agreed to the continued operation of existing reactors as well as leaving open the option of their eventual replacement.