OECD expert team presents review report on Swedish repository

24.07.2012

In his role as chairman of the International Review Team (IRT), Michael Sailer has presented the review of the Swedish operator’s reporting of long-term safety in its application to construct a nuclear fuel repository.

The review report was requested by the Swedish government. In it the international team of experts draw the conclusion that the operator – the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (Svensk Kärnbränslehantering, SKB) – has provided, for the current stage of the licensing procedure, a mature programme for spent fuel disposal in the municipality of Östhammar. It is capable in principle of fulfilling safety and radiation protection requirements, although the IRT has also suggested a number of recommendations for improvements.

An international assessment

The International Review Team, which was assembled by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) for this task, consists of ten independent specialists from Europe, North America and Asia. Michael Sailer, CEO of Oeko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), is chairman of the team of experts.

Their task was to review the documentation of SKB’s repository application in Sweden. The findings of the International Review Team will be important in the discussion about granting approval of the plan. The licensing decision itself resides with the responsible Swedish authorities – the review is thus an important step in the overall licensing procedure for the first repository in Sweden.
Improvements are necessary for long-term safety
Having conducted the analysis the IRT answered two key questions posed by the Swedish government with the following statements:

1. Are the application documents on the long-term safety of the Swedish repository credible from a scientific perspective?

The key answers provided by the review team are:

  • In general the SKB has provided a convincing illustration of the technical feasibility of the future repository and its radiation protection.
  • The SKB application is based on current state-of-the-art technology and research.
  • However, the IRT recommends improvements in several areas, which would strengthen confidence in the safety analysis.

2. Has the SKB shown the most important aspects which must be developed in the future?

The key answers provided by the review team are:

  • Although the documentation has elucidated important aspects, improvements are possible in terms of central elements of the programme.
  • These include the further development of the technical and industrial feasibility of the repository after the conceptual phase (which has now been completed).

At the same time the team of experts has suggested improvements, in particular with regard to the transparency, traceability and clarity of the application documents. Further analyses are necessary to increase public confidence in the safety of the repository.

Further information on the review report by the team of experts can be found on the website of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority

The website of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) with press releases, webcasts of report presentations and the link to the review report can be found here

Further information is available on the website of the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB)

Contact at Oeko-Institut

Michael Sailer
CEO
Oeko-Institut, Berlin office
E-Mail Contact