The Swedish Environmental Court’s NO to the final repository for spent nuclear fuel – a triumph for the en vironmental movement and the science

23 January 2018 | The Swedish Environmental Court says no to the power industry’s Nuclear Waste Company SKB’s license application for a final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark, Sweden. This is a huge triumph for safety and environment – and for the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review (MKG), the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), and critical scientists who have been presenting risks of the malfunction of the selected method. Now it is up to the Swedish government to make the final decision.

– We are relieved and very happy about the Environmental Court’s statement, says Johanna Sandahl, President at the SSNC.

– The fact that the Court rejects the power industry’s Nuclear Waste Company SKB’s applied solution means of course that the problem of how to finally dispose the spent nuclear fuel from the Swedish nuclear power plants remains. Though, this shows the strengths in a functioning environmental proceeding, in which safety issues and good documentation are required.

The statement concerns Sweden’s most important environmental case of all times. The Environmental Court has been taken into consideration viewpoints from all parties of the case, including the scientists who have raised their concerns about disposing the spent nuclear fuel in copper canisters. During the legal proceedings, the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review (MKG) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) have presented the shortcomings of the applied method. For many years, the environmental organisations have been arguing that the Nuclear Waste Company SKB need to listen to critical scientists as well, and investigate alternative disposal methods, especially the possibility to develop a disposal method of very deep boreholes.

– This is a triumph for us. From now on, the work on evaluating safer disposal solutions will continue. The decision that will be made concerns waste that will be hazardous for thousands of years. Several independent researchers have criticized both the applied method and the selected site. There is a solid documentation as base for the Environmental Court’s decision. It is hard to believe the Swedish Government’s conclusions will be any different from that of the Court’s, says Johan Swahn, Director at MKG.

In parallel with the Swedish Environmental Court proceedings, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has been evaluating the application in accordance with the Act on Nuclear Activities. This morning, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority announced their statement to the Swedish Government. They approved the license application based on the assumption that the industry has “potential to achieve” the safety requirements. The Authority decision is based the continual step-by-step assessment in accordance with the Act on Nuclear Activities.

– We expect the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority to continue the evaluation on the controversial issue of copper corrosion, in order to make sure the Swedish Government are provided with the best possible documentation when they are making the final decision, says Johanna Sandahl.

MKG and SSNC will continue to follow up the research in this field, as well as the Court’s argumentation and Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s work.

Links:

Summary of the Court’s statement, 180123 >> (in Swedish)

The Environmental Court’s statement to the government, 180123 >>(in Swedish)

As posted 23 J anuary 2017 at http://www.mkg.se/en/the-swedish-environmental-court-s-no-to-the-final-repository-for-spent-nuclear-fuel-a-triumph-for-th

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