The pronouncements January 2018
In March 2011 the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co (SKB) submitted its applications for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel to the Land and Environment Court and to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM). On 23 January 2018 the Land and Environment Court´s pronouncement and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority´s pronouncement was submitted to the Government together with the applications.
The main hearing of the Land and Environment Court and its pronouncement for the Government
During autumn 2017, the Land and Environment Court held its main hearing in accordance with the Swedish Environmental Code. The hearing at the Land and Environment Court concluded with a pronouncement submitted on 23 January to the Government, 2018 which will determine permissibility under the Swedish Environmental Code. The conclusions the Land and Environment Court reached included:
SKB’s investigation is thorough, however there are still uncertainties regarding the canister’s capacity to contain the nuclear waste in the long term. These uncertainties relate to the extent to which the canisters can be damaged by corrosion and processes that impact upon their mechanical durability. The overall investigation shows that the uncertainties concerning the canister’s protective capacity are significant, and that not all uncertainties have been considered in SKB’s safety analysis. Based on the current safety analysis, the Court cannot reach the conclusion that the final repository will be safe in the long term. Therefore, the conclusion is that the final repository may be permitted under the Swedish Environmental Code only if SKB provides further supporting information that clarifies that the final repository is safe, covering in particular the canister’s protective capacity.
The final repository may be permitted with regard to the Swedish Environmental Code’s requirements in terms of choice of location, special protection areas, and protected species. However, the operations entail a risk of substantial harm to the Forsmark-Kallriga bay area of natural interest, but the Land and Environment Court concluded that the national interest in a final repository should be given precedence. Permission is required for several Natura 2000 areas. If the safety measures are taken, permission may be granted for the Natura 2000 areas.
Under the Swedish Environmental Code, those granted permission shall remain responsible for the operations until further notice, i.e. with no time limitations. There are different views on where long-term responsibility lies. The municipality of Östhammer has opposed the municipality taking ultimate responsibility. The issue arises as to whether the state should have ultimate responsibility for the final repository. Who has long term responsibility under the Swedish Environmental Code must be clarified. (About the long-term responsibility see above, a new law has been decided upon).
Prior to the granting of permission the Government ought to also consider certain legislative amendments, including assigning the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority a stronger position within the Swedish Environmental Code.
The Land and Environment Court concludes that the Environmental Impact Assessment fulfils the requirements of the Swedish Environmental Code, and may therefore be approved. The Court also concludes that operations at Clab and Clink may be permitted under the Swedish Environmental Code.
SSM’s pronouncement for the Government
On the same day as the Land and Environment Court, SSM submitted its pronouncement under the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities to the Government. The conclusions that SSM reached included:
SSM recommends that SKB is granted a license under the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities to construct a final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark, in the municipality of Östhammer, and an encapsulation plant in the municipality of Oskarshamn. SSM is of the view that SKB fulfils the preconditions for the safe management and final disposal of spent nuclear fuel, ensuring that human health and the environment are protected from harmful radiation.
Based on its applications, SSM is of the view that SKB has shown that the facilities and relevant safety analysis reports can be developed in accordance with the establish procedure for stepwise licensing under the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities. SKB is considered capable of developing the updated safety analysis reports for the construction, operation and long-term radiation safety, which will be reviewed and approved by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority during future stages, if a license is granted by the Government.
SSM´s recommendation includes a number of conditions, including that the safety analysis reports and management systems for the facilities continue to undergo development in accordance with a stepwise licensing under the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities. This means that at a number of different stages in an ongoing process, SKB must submit reports to be reviewed and approved by the SSM before they may proceed with the next stage in the process .
A further condition for the recommendation is that during the design, construction and operation of the facilities, SKB continues to take into account significant issues in terms of radiation safety, bearing in mind the development needs identified by the SSM in its review.
SSM also proposes certain conditions for the Government’s licencing of SKB’s facilities. The conditions entail the facilities being built, owned and operated as stated in the applications, and that SKB is to develop safety analysis reports to be tested and approved by the SSM prior to construction commencing, prior to the start of trial operations, and prior to the facility being opened for standard usage.
SSM and the Land and Environment Court have now submitted the applications to the Government, which is responsible for their further processing and making a decision on licensing/permissibility.
Update June 2020 - State responsibility for certain nuclear activities is clarified
The state's responsibility for certain nuclear activities must be clarified and the authority appointed by the government will have a special role to fulfil this responsibility. The Government's proposal entails legislative changes that clarify the state's responsibility for certain nuclear activities, such as a final repositories for nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel.
The amendments to the law mean, among other things, that the responsibility for the safety of a nuclear operation is transferred to the state if there is no one who can fulfil the responsibility. Furthermore, permission from the government will be required to finally seal a geological repository. The final responsibility for a geological final repository and the waste contained in the facility will rest on the state.
The Riksdag said yes to the government's proposal. The legislative changes will take effect on November 1, 2020.