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Michael Sailer, chairman of the international review team. Photo: Lasse Modin

International review – a milestone in the nuclear waste issue

An international review team appointed by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and commissioned by the Swedish government has reviewed SKB’s application to build a final repository for spent nuclear fuel at Forsmark. Their conclusion is that the SKB safety analysis provides a satisfactory and credible platform for the licensing process.

The review has been in progress for over 12 months, and the final report was presented today. It is an important milestone in the current licensing process. In the report, NEA states that SKB’s method is both mature and innovative and that it meets the safety requirements.

“We have been looking forward to this final report and are delighted about the positive opinions expressed in it. Although the licensing process is still far from being completed, I am happy that the international review team has given our application such recognition,” says SKB President Claes Thegerström, commenting the news.

The international review team says that SKB has shown that the method meets all the specified requirements and is sufficiently safe. They also point out that there are several areas where additional research is needed to further strengthen confidence in the findings of the safety analysis, SKB has already started work and research projects in a number of these areas.

“A huge amount of material has been reviewed, and many additional questions have been asked over the past year. We have worked hard to answer them, and we appreciate the thoroughness of the review report the international review team has now presented.

Their recommendations provide good support for SKB’s continuing work,” says Allan Hedin, head of SKB analysis of long-term safety.

The international review team also emphasizes the importance for SKB to clearly show the chain of events whereby theory is transformed into practice, i.e how to translate safety analysis into industrial production and application. This work is ongoing and will become increasingly important closer to the start of construction and operation. The results of this work will be reviewed and evaluated by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM, in the coming licensing process.

The review report also praises SKB’s approach to public outreach work that is described as at the forefront of international practise.

About the OECD-NEA international review team:
• OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is an international organisation that helps industrialized countries with democracy and market economies.
• The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has organized over 15 expert reviews of safety reports on final repositories for spent nuclear fuel in different countries.
• The International Review Team (IRT) consists of ten experts within different scientific areas who come from organizations and universities in seven countries.
• The areas of the application that have been reviewed concern long-term radiation safety and the choice of location and method.
• The review was commissioned by the Swedish government and has been managed by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM.

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