The nuclear power industry in Sweden is responsible for handeling nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel (Polluter Pay Principle). The nuclear power producers jointly own a company for waste management − The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co (SKB).
SKB submitted it's applications for licenses to construct, own and operate a final repository for spent nuclear fuel according to the KBS-3 method in March 2011. Permission under both the Swedish Environmental Code and the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities is required for this, see more below. The applications were submitted to the Land and Environment Court and to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM). After the Court and SSM had prepared and reviewed the applications, they submitted SKB:s applications togehter with their pronouncements to the Government 23 January 2018. Read more about the pronouncements here.
After four years of review, the Government made two decisions about the repository 27 January 2022:
Permissibility according to the Environmental Code
With one condition about annual meetings between the municipalities and SKB about environmental questions.
Next steps are that The Land and Environment Court will hold a second main hearing on topics such as conditions, after which it will decide to issue a license under the Swedish Environmental Code.
Permission/license under the Nuclear Activities Act
With conditions about a stepwise process. Next steps are that the Government delegates decisions on further conditions under the Nuclear Activities Act and the Radiation Protection Act to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority , SSM. In the stepwise process that follows, SSM has to approve of SKB's uppdated safety analysis reports before the start of construction, trial operation, regular operation, decommissioning and closure.
The Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste serves in an advisory capacity to the Government even after the decision.
More information about the parallel processes according to the Environmental Code and the Nuclear Activities Act
The licensing processes are two separate processes:
One process for a license according to the Environmental Code (1998: 808) Environmental Code
The application was prepared and reviewed by the Land and Environment Court at Nacka District Court (Land and Environment Court).
One process for a license in accordance with the Act (1984: 3) on nuclear activities, (the Nuclear Activities Act) The Act on Nuclear Activities (1984:3)
The applications was prepared and reviewed by the regulator the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).
Schematically, the processes for licensing under the Environmental Code and the Nuclear Activities Act can be described as in the figure below. The figure is further described in in the Report 2011:2 Licensing under the Environmental Code and the Nuclear Activities Act of a final repository for spent nuclear fuel.
Permissibility – the provisions in the Swedish Environmental Code concern both the facility safety, radiation safety and other issues associated with a final repository, such as noise disruption, protection of natural and cultural environments, and preservation of diversity.
Licensing – the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities is a more specialised piece of legislation with a restricted focus on radiation safety issues.
The preparation process before the Government decision
The Government’s decision on a Government case was the final outcome of a long and careful preparation process within the Swedish Government Offices. The preparation process included for example supplements. 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. The municipalities concerned, Oskarshamn and Östhammar, have the right of veto under the Environmental Code. The municipal council of Oskarshamn supported the application for the facilities planned in its municipality in 2018. In Östhammar an extra municipal council meeting was held in October 2020 and it was decided that the municipality also supports the application.