The Swedish System
A safe final repository system
The system for dealing with Swedish radioactive waste comprises a number of facilities that together provide a safe chain. The first links in this chain were already in place in the early 1980s, others still have to be constructed. The radioactivity level of the waste determines how it is managed.
Nuclear power plants
There are three nuclear power plants with a total of six reactors in operation in Sweden.
Hospitals, industry and research
Radioactive waste that has to be disposed of safely is also produced in hospitals and industry. This waste is low or intermediate level.
Transport by sea
Waste from nuclear power stations is transported by SKB’s specially built vessel M/S Sigrid.
Central Interim Storage Facility for Spent Nuclear Fuel (Clab)
Today all of the spent nuclear fuel produced by Swedish nuclear power stations so far is in interim storage in Clab outside Oskarshamn. It is placed in storage pools located in rock vaults 25–30 metres underground and is under constant surveillance and control. Clab has been operating since 1985.
Clab is not a final repository but after interim storage the waste will be moved to the Spent Fuel Repository that SKB plans to construct at Forsmark.
Final Repository for Short-lived Radioactive Waste (SFR)
This is where operational waste from nuclear power plants, which includes used protective clothing, replaced components and filtering materials that have been used to decontaminate reactor water, is deposited. Radioactive waste from hospitals, industry and research is also kept here. The repository is located at Forsmark in bedrock about 50 metres below sea level.
In 2014 SKB submitted an application to the authorities for a permit to extend the SFR primarily to make room for decommissioning waste.
Final Repository for Spent Nuclear Fuel at Forsmark
The planned Spent Fuel Repository forms the last link in the chain when it comes to dealing with spent nuclear fuel. It will be deposited there in sealed copper canisters placed in rock vaults and surrounded by bentonite clay at a depth of 500 metres in the rock.
Encapsulation plant at Oskarshamn
After interim storage the spent nuclear fuel will be sealed into canisters and SKB plans to construct an encapsulation plant at Oskarshamn. The canisters will be made of copper with inserts of nodular cast iron and will each contain about 2 tonnes of waste.
Final Repository for Long-lived Radioactive Waste
SKB is also planning a final repository for long-lived radioactive waste, SFL. This project has not, however, progressed as far as the others.