Waste Management

Sweden / Municipality Approves Repository Plans, Paving Way For Gov’t Go-Ahead

By David Dalton
14 October 2020

Construction could start in the mid-2020s and take about 10 years to complete
Municipality Approves Repository Plans, Paving Way For Gov’t Go-Ahead
Construction of the spent fuel repository could begin in the early 2020s. Courtesy SKB.
The municipality of Östhammar in southeast Sweden has approved plans to build a deep geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel, meaning all the documentation is in place for a final decision from the government.

The municipality said the plans had passed a vote at an extraordinary general meeting on 13 October. It said 38 members supported the decision, seven opposed it and three abstained.

The councils of both Östhammar and Oskarshamn municipalities have now approved the application to build a repository at Söderviken, close to the Forsmark nuclear power station, about 140 km north of Stockholm.

Nuclear fuel management company SKB filed an application for a permit to build the repository in 2011 after the Forsmark site was chosen in 2009. The application also includes plans for an encapsulation plant in Oskarshamn. The encapsulation plant has already been approved by Oskarshamn municipality.

The country’s nuclear regulator SSM recommended in January 2018 that the repository and encapsulation plant plans should be approved. The Land and Environment Court (MMD) has also reviewed the proposals, although it asked for supplementary information about the copper canisters to be used at the repository. SKB submitted this information to the government in April 2019.

SKB sad the applications were reviewed by independent experts at the regulatory authorities and by several reviewing bodies. At the request of the state, an international expert group also commented on long-term safety.

“With this decision from Östhammar municipality and Oskarshamn municipality’s previous decision to agree to the encapsulation plant, the basis for a government decision is now in place,” SKB said.

When the government has made its decision, SSM and the MMD will be asked to set out conditions for the facilities.

SKB’s plan is for spent nuclear fuel to be encapsulated in copper and nodular cast iron at Oskarshamn before being transported to the final repository at Forsmark.

SKB said it hopes that construction of the facilities will start in the mid-2020s and take about 10 years to complete.

SKB said final government approval would kick-start one of Sweden’s largest and most important environmental protection projects and trigger investments of approximately 19 billion Swedish kroner (€1.8bn), generating about 1,500 jobs.

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