Uncertainty concerning the continued interim storage facility and final repository process
The Government decided on 26 August to extract interim storage from SKB’s comprehensive final repository system application. The case is now with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the Land and Environment Court for further investigation.
The situation surrounding the court process that awaits in the next step of the licensing process is still uncertain, but it is clear that SKB needs to collect extensive material to enable the interim storage section to be examined separately.
– We will naturally do our utmost to obtain an extended permit for the interim storage facility, thereby avoiding risks to electricity generation. We will simultaneously encourage the Government to come to a conclusion on the remaining areas of the final repository case, says SKB’s CEO Johan Dasht.
– We are particularly attentive to the fact that the Government has announced in the media that they may have a basis for making a decision on the final repository within a few months.
New safety analysis reports
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority will also require new, comprehensive safety analysis reports that focus solely on the extension of the interim storage facility. The safety analysis reports previously submitted by SKB covered the final repository system in its entirety.
The safety analysis reports are put together in three stages. First, SKB will prepare a preliminary safety analysis report. Once this has been reviewed and approved, an updated safety analysis report will be drafted. This report must be approved before the facility may be put into trial operation. Following yet another safety analysis report, the facility may be put into regular operation. This comprehensive and advanced trial will now only be carried out on the interim storage facility.
In contravention to reviewing bodies
The Government had the opportunity to make a decision on SKB’s complete final repository system application but chose to extract and only deal with the section concerning licensing of increased storage capacity in the interim storage facility Clab in Oskarshamn. This was in contravention to what SKB, our owners and a large majority of the reviewing bodies deemed to be the best way forward. Among those who submitted comments were several regulatory authorities and the directly affected municipalities, Oskarshamn and Östhammar.
The decision to extract the section on interim storage rather than make a decision on the entire application entails risk, with unclear consequences. Therefore, on 31 August, Vattenfall renewed their warning to the electricity market that there may be cuts in generation starting in the spring of 2024. Time remains the critical factor as the interim storage facility under the current licence will be at maximum capacity as of December 2023. If no new permits are in place by then, the first reactor will need to be taken out of service soon thereafter.
A decision regarding the final repository is needed
SKB is commissioned with safely managing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel, both now and in the future. It is with great pride that we run one of Sweden’s most important environmental protection projects and we believe that we have a responsibility towards future generations to manage the waste generated by nuclear power.