The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co (SKB) submitted its applications for licenses to construct, own and operate a final repository for spent nuclear fuel in March 2011. Permission under both the Swedish Environmental Code and the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities is required for this. The cases have been prepared by the Land and Environment Court at Nacka District Court and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), which on 23 January 2018 submitted their pronouncements to the Government, which is responsible for the continued processing and will make a decision on permissibility/licensing.
Read more about the pronouncements here.
Permissibility – the provisions in the Swedish Environmental Code concern both the facility safety/radiation safety and other issues associated with a final repository facility, such as noise disruption, protection of natural and cultural environments, and preservation of diversity. The Government is also to review the application from a societal perspective, to determine whether the operations in question are permissible.
Licensing – the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities is a more specialised piece of legislation with a restricted focus on radiation safety issues. The Government will consider licensing here.
Preparation of the case
The Land and Environment Court and SSM submitted their pronouncements to the Government on 23 January 2018, and the Ministry’s preparation is in progress. The permissibility assessment under the Swedish Environmental Code will be coordinated with the licensing assessment under the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities. As the cases are comprehensive, the Ministry has appointed a group of officials from the Environmental Assessment Division, the Chemicals Division, and the Legal Secretariat. Preparation of the case under the Swedish Environmental Code will, in addition to the normal preparation process, also include the submission of a formal question to the municipalities of Östhammar and Oskarshamn to determine whether they permit the construction of the facilities in question.
The preparation process will initiate the Government decision
The Government’s decision on a Government case is the final outcome of a long and careful preparation process within the Swedish Government Offices. The preparation process may include supplements, for example. If the officials do not have sufficient information to reach a decision, further information may be sought. Some cases may be circulated for comment amongst authorities, institutions, municipalities, professional associations and others concerned.
When the examination of the case is completed, the officials will compile a proposal for a decision. The proposal will then be prepared with the other units concerned within the Ministry. In many instances, one case may also touch upon the areas of responsibility of several ministers, and must, therefore, be jointly prepared with their staff. All ministers must agree on the decision before it is raised at a cabinet meeting. Other ministries may have perspectives that differ from that of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy. The Government makes joint decisions on all Government cases during the cabinet meetings that take place each week. This allows all ministers the opportunity to have a say on the decisions the Government makes. The Government is, together, responsible for all Government decisions.
The municipal vetoes – the municipalities of Oskarshamn and Östhammar
Under Chapter 17 Section 6 of the Swedish Environmental Code, the Government may only issue permission for a nuclear facility if the municipal council of the municipality in which the facility will be located has issued its approval. If the activity is of the utmost importance with regard to national interest, the Government may make an exception, or a so-called Veto valve.
Permissibility and licensing
If the Government decides favourably regarding permissibility under the Swedish Environmental Code and licensing under the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities, the case will be returned to the Land and Environment Court and SSM. The Land and Environment Court will then hold a second main hearing on topics such as conditions, after which it will decide to issue a license under the Swedish Environmental Code.
The Government delegates decisions on further conditions under the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities to SSM. One condition will be the implementation of stepwise licensing.
Updated may 2018