Nuclear regulatory authority
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) is the regulatory authority for nuclear safety, radiation protection, nuclear security and nuclear non-proliferation. SSM works proactively and preventively to maintain a high level of nuclear safety and radiation protection in Sweden and internationally. The Authority has just over 300 employees with expertise in fields such as engineering, natural and behavioural sciences, law, economics and communications. Its budget is approximately 400 million Swedish kronor per year (about EUR 40m). SSM’s work is financed through fees and tax funds.
SSM issues legally binding regulations under the Act on Nuclear Activities (1984:3) and the Radiation Protection Act (2018:396). SSM is involved in licensing of nuclear activities and carries out inspections and enforcement. In an accident situation involving radioactive material or radiation, SSM arranges for expert assistance to the entities in charge. This is done by means of the emergency response centre located on SSM’s premises. SSM also has the mandate to coordinate the national organisation for measurement and analysis.
The mission and tasks of SSM are defined in Ordinance 2008:452, which contains instructions for the Authority, and in annual appropriation directions from the Swedish Government.
Sweden has eight nuclear power reactors in operation (mid-2018) and five reactors that are permanently shut down and undergoing decommissioning. The operating reactors all came into operation between 1972 and 1985, comprising five BWRs of ASEA-Atom design and three PWRs of Westinghouse design. In an average year, nuclear power provides around 40 per cent of the electricity produced in Sweden.
As a result of new regulations, all Swedish reactors have undergone extensive modernization and safety upgrades over the past decade. In recent years, substantial and additional safety upgrades have resulted from the National Action Plan (NAcP) decided after the post-Fukushima stress tests. As a final step of the NAcP, robust and independent core cooling systems are required to be implemented in all operating reactors by the end of 2020.
In 2015, the licensees of the Oskarshamn and Ringhals nuclear power plants decided to close down four reactors before the end of 2020: Oskarshamn 1 (2017) and 2 (2016), and Ringhals 1 (2020) and 2 (2019).
Swedish legislation allows for the construction of new reactors on the condition that they replace existing ones being permanently shut down, and also provided that they are built on a site with pre-existing reactors in operation. In July 2012, an application in principle was submitted by Vattenfall AB for the construction of one or two new reactors at the Ringhals site. However, for the time being, Vattenfall AB perceives no justification to continue with the next step of the licensing process.
Other nuclear facilities in Sweden include e.g a nuclear fuel fabrication plant, an interim spent fuel storage facility, and a disposal facility for short-lived low and intermediate level radioactive waste.
Radioactive waste and spent fuel management
SKB (Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company) was jointly established in the 1970s by the Swedish nuclear reactor operators. SKB is the licensee of a disposal facility for short-lived low and intermediate level operational waste, SFR, located at Forsmark. The SFR facility is situated on the coast of the Baltic Sea at a depth of 50 metres in bedrock, 5 metres below the seabed. Construction of SFR began in 1983 and the facility was commissioned in 1988. SFR is currently licensed for disposal of 63,000 m3 of operational waste. In 2014, SKB submitted a licence application for permission to increase SFR’s disposal capacity to 200,000 m3 in order to also accommodate decommissioning waste. SKB is also the licensee of the interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, Clab, located at Oskarshamn. Clab is currently licensed for storage of 8,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel. An application for permission to enlarge its storage capacity to 11,000 tonnes was submitted in 2015.
The process of selecting a site for a spent nuclear fuel repository was launched more than three decades ago. In 2009, SKB opted to locate the geological repository at Forsmark, in the municipality of Östhammar. In March 2011, SKB submitted licence applications for construction of facilities for disposal of spent nuclear fuel; an encapsulation plant at Oskarshamn and a spent fuel repository at Forsmark.
SSM has reviewed SKB’s applications under the Act on Nuclear Activities and submitted its statement on 23 January 2018, which recommends that the Swedish Government approve SKB’s applications. The Land and Environment Court of Nacka District Court has examined in parallel the licence application under the Environmental Code, and issued its pronouncement to the Government on 23 January 2018. The Government will take the final decision on SKB’s applications.
Main legal instruments
Five enactments constitute fundamental nuclear safety and radiation protection legislation:
- Act on Nuclear Activities (1984:3)
- Radiation Protection Act (2018:396)
- Environmental Code (1998:808)
- Act on Financing of Management of Residual Products from Nuclear Activities (2006:647)
- Nuclear Liability Act (1968:45)
Last updated in September 2018