Final repository plans in Sweden failed

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After five weeks of reviewing the Swedish final disposal plans for high level active waste (HAW) in the Swedish Land and Environmental Court (MMD), the judges' conclusions were published in the end of January 2018: They recommended the government not to issue the operator SKB (Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company) a license for their proposed underground repository 500 meters underground in Forsmark, on the coast north of Stockholm. However, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) stated to the government they support the application of SKB. It is unique that two governmental bodies land on totally different opinions.

From the Swedish environmental weekly magazine SYRE (oxygen) no 8/2018, January 26, 2018.

Cheer in the environmental movement over no to final repository

There was NO to the plans for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel at Forsmark. But Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) has not given up and believes it is possible to convince the government that decides the decision.

The final repository dispute is the most comprehensive environmental objective ever decided in Sweden, according to the Nature Conservation Association.

"It's a victory for the entire environmental movement. For several decades we have tried to put forward the risks of copper corrosion", says Rebecca Nordenstam, environmental lawyer who represented the Nature Conservation Association in the Land and Environmental Court as decided on the target.

According to the court, Swedish nuclear fuel and waste management company (SKB) has not been able to show that the copper capsules intended to keep the fuel in are sufficiently stable. But, at the same time, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) provides green light for the plans, SKB hopes to convince the government to settle the final decision.

"We can say that we have not been able to answer the court's questions as far as the copper capsule is concerned. At the same time, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), in its opinion, writes that SKB has the prerequisites for meeting the requirements for radiation-safe disposal, SKB's CEO Eva Halldén said in a press release. But Rebecca Nordenstam assumes that the government follows the court.

- The Court's opinion on more than 500 pages is very solid. That would be a good thing for the government to derive that assessment", she says. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation argues that SKB should have investigated several different methods. One such is drilling deep drill holdings, which SKB rejected at an early stage. "Forty years ago, it might seem unrealistic to drill five-kilometer deep boreholes, but today there is the method, even if it needs refinement," says Rebecca Nordenstam.

"The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) is of the opinion that the question marks concerning the method of encapsulating the waste in copper can be corrected during the course of the process. It would be a challenge to the problems of future generations, "said the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. Then it's better to take a step back and research more to make a better proposal," says Rebecca Nordenstam.

Olof Klugman

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