On June 20th, the Swedish government sent out a referral to get comments on the issue of separating the licensing of the expansion of the capacity of the intermediate storage facility for spent nuclear fuel (Clab) from the licensing process for the spent nuclear fuel repository in Forsmark. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the Swedish Friends of the Earth and the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review, MKG, have already stated in the legal brief that the organisations sent to the government on June 11th that the government should handle the application for the Clab expansion separately. This allows the government to continue to focus on the long-term safety of the copper canister by first requiring scientifically reported results from the copper corrosion in the LOT experiment. The last date to respond to the referral is July 31.
The government writes in the referral [MKG translation]:
“Swedish Nuclear Fuel Management Co. (SKB) currently has a licence according to the Environmental Act to store 8,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel and core components in the intermediate storage facility for spent nuclear fuel (Clab). During the licensing proceedings [for the spent fuel repository] in the Land and Environment Court, SKB submitted an additional request for increased interim storage in Clab up to 11,000 tonnes. SKB stated that the reason for the request was that the currently authorized amount of stored fuel in Clab is expected to be reached in 2023 and that there is therefore a need for the possibility of increased intermediate storage.
Following a government decision on permissibility and licence for SKB's application, a further legal process takes place because the case is then sent back to the Land and Environment Court, which will decide questions about conditions, etc. A licensing judgment can then be appealed, which can further extend the process. There is a significant risk that there will not be a final decision in place in time before the intermediate storage facility becomes full. There is therefore a need to separate out the part concerning Clab to ensure that the licence gains legal force before the current licence is exceeded.
The referral states that the government wishes to receive views on the decision concerning Clab being made as a separate decision."
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the Swedish Friends of the Earth and the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review, MKG, have already stated in the legal brief that the organisations sent to the government on June 11th that the government should handle the application for the Clab expansion separately. This allows the government to continue to focus on the long-term safety of the copper canister by first requiring scientifically reported results from the copper corrosion in the LOT experiment. In the summary of the opinion the organisations stated:
“A licence for increased capacity for the intermediate storage for spent nuclear fuel, Clab, from 8,000 tonnes to 11,000 tonnes does not mean that the activities at the plant will change. The increased capacity is achieved by compacting the storage of the spent nuclear fuel element in compact cassettes. Such compaction, e.g., "re-racking", has already been going on for many years and a licence for increased capacity only means that operations can continue as before but with more spent nuclear fuel. The organisations understand that this means that the government should be able to use the opportunity according to § 2 in chapter 17 of the Environmental Code that if there are special reasons allows the government to refrain from reviewing the application. The government can likely then only refer the case to the Land and Environment Court that can grant a licence. The government must also grant a licence under the Nuclear Activities Act only for the expansion of the capacity for Clab, for further handling by SSM.
The organisations understand that if the government does not choose to take the opportunity to refrain from reviewing the increase the capacity of the intermediate storage for spent nuclear fuel, Clab, the government can instead try the issue separately. The Swedish Council for Nuclear Waste has also shown this possibility in a statement to the government.
The organisations understand that the municipality of Oskarshamn has no opportunity to object legally to the government taking its responsibility and separating the review under the Environmental Code of an increase in the capacity of the intermediate storage for spent nuclear fuel, Clab, from the review of the spent nuclear fuel repository application. The municipality has not made any such reservations in its veto decision to approve the repository. According to the first paragraph in § 6 of chapter 17 of the Environmental Code the community could possibly be able to assert the right to reject the permissibility of a separate decision on Clab. It is unclear whether a municipality can withdraw an approval, especially with reference to a requirement that has not previously been commented on to the government. But since the condition that the government according to the same provision in the second paragraph can still grant permissibility "if the activity is of the utmost importance with regard to the national interest or where no other site is considered more appropriate for the activity or if an appropriate site has been not been designated for the activity in another municipality which is likely to approve the site”, the municipality's veto could not prevent the decision.”
A link to a news article in English about the organisations’ legal brief can be found here:
More information about the government’s referral can be found on MKG’s Swedish web page here.
See also the following news articles on MKG:s English pages: