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Sweden says two aging nuclear reactors safe to run till 2028

Sweden says two aging nuclear reactors safe to run till 2028, OSLO (Reuters) 24 June 19 Vattenfall’s Forsmark 1 and 2 reactors in Sweden have safety clearance to operate for another decade, taking them beyond their initial 40-year planned lifetime, the Swedish radiation safety authority said on Monday…… https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sweden-nuclear-vattenfall/sweden-
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June 25, 2019 Posted by | politics, Sweden | Leave a comment

Scandinavian farmers still impacted by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Chernobyl: 33 Years On, Radioactive Fallout Still Impacts Scandinavian Farmershttps://www.forbes.com/sites/davidnikel/2019/06/08/chernobyl-33-years-on-radiation-still-impacts-scandinavian-farmers/#390eeebd949f, David Nike 8 June 19

The smash-hit HBO series ‘Chernobyl’ has introduced an entire new generation to the nuclear disaster that shook the world in 1986. Initially covered up by Soviet authorities, the disaster only came to light when nuclear power stations in Sweden – hundreds of miles away – detected high levels of radiation and began to ask questions. 33 years later, radiation remains a problem in both Sweden and Norway especially for farmers.

“Who would have thought that a small northern Norwegian mountain village could be hit by a nuclear accident in Europe. Overnight we were powerless. The Chernobyl accident shows that our food production is vulnerable. It’s scary,” sheep farmer Laila Hoff from Hattfjelldal told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK. She said all meat had to be destroyed in the first year following the accident. But even now in 2019, animals in 37 Norwegian municipalities are subject to radiation testing and control before they can be slaughtered. One leading researcher says it will take “decades” for the controls to no longer be necessary.

How Chernobyl hit farming in Norway and Sweden

The radioactive substance cesium-137 takes many years to break down with an estimated half-life of 30 years. It still exists in the earth in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident, including large parts of Norway and Sweden. The substance is taken up from the soil by plants and fungi, which in turn are eaten by sheep, reindeer and other grazing animals.

In the wake of the 1986 accident, cesium-137 spread over much of northern and central Scandinavia. The weather conditions were such that Norway and Sweden were two of the countries worst hit outside the Soviet Union. In Sweden, the areas around Uppsala, Gävle and Västerbotten were hardest hit, while in Norway the area between Trondheim and Bodø along with mountainous areas further south suffered, mainly because of rainfall.

The radiation impacted vegetation to varying degrees, but also led to radioactivity in grazing animals, primarily sheep and reindeer. In reindeer calf meat, up to 40,000 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) were measured, with up to 10,000 Bq/kg in sheep meat. Norwegian authorities set the highest acceptable level in meat at just 60 Bq/kg, which led to the widespread feeding of animals with non-contaminated feed. This process of feeding livestock from contaminated pastures with non-radioactive feed for a period to reduce radioactivity in meat or milk is known as nedfôring.

June 10, 2019 Posted by | environment, Sweden | Leave a comment

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court rules against extraditing Assange to Sweden

4 June 19

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court has found in favour of Assange: the court ruled NOT to detain Assange in absentia. The preliminary investigation can proceed without Assange’s extradition to Sweden. This was always the case as Assange has always cooperated with the investigation.

Suzie Dawson on Julian Assange’s mistreatment #FreeAssange

June 4, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, Sweden | Leave a comment

Swedish court rejects effort to delay Assange hearing

https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/swedish-court-rejects-effort-to-delay-assange-hearing-20190529-p51s61.html  29 May 19.   Stockholm: A Swedish court has rejected efforts to postpone a hearing relating to Julian Assange, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder says.

A Swedish prosecutor this month filed a request for Assange to be detained for a June 3 hearing about a rape allegation.

Defence lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters he visited Assange in British custody on Friday before seeking to postpone the hearing.

“One of the reasons is that Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Samuelson said.

“I meant that it should be postponed until I had time to meet again and go through the issues in peace and quiet. I suggested no specific date and meant it should be postponed until everything was ready, but the district court has now decided that this won’t happen .

he Uppsala district court, where the hearing is due to take place, was not immediately available for comment. A prosecutors’ office spokesman declined to comment.

Sweden reopened the investigation into alleged rape, which Assange denies, in early May. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 while Assange was in refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Assange was arrested in London last month after spending nearly seven years inside the embassy.

If the court order is granted, it would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail.

US authorities are separately seeking to extradite Assange on charges relating to the public release by WikiLeaks of a cache of secret documents, and last week unveiled 17 new criminal charges against him, including espionage.

The British courts will have to rule on the two extradition requests, with the home secretary having the final say on which one takes precedence.

June 1, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, Sweden | Leave a comment

Sweden: Vattenfall determined to close 2 aging nuclear reactors

A Tiny Hole at Sweden’s Oldest Atomic Plant Upends Nuclear Revival
Industry and lawmakers in Sweden want Vattenfall to reverse a decision to close two aging reactors.
Bloomberg, By Jesper Starn, May 20, 2019

A hole just a few millimeters deep at Sweden’s oldest nuclear plant is upending the debate about whether to revive the technology to ensure that the Nordic region’s biggest economy has enough power. 

Regulators assume such a small gap exists at the Ringhals-2 plant on the nation’s west coast because repairs to similar cavities were made earlier in the decade on about half of an area covering 700 square meters (7,535 square feet). The owner Vattenfall AB won’t carry out more costly repairs and its permit expires at the end of the year.

While the state-controlled power company doubts that further faults exist, it would rather scrap the plant than uproot the meter-thick slab of concrete surrounding the massive steel plates that make up the reactor containment……..

For the moment, Vattenfall isn’t budging on the decision it made in 2015 to wind down operations at the plant, which includes two reactors that  began operations in 1975 and 1976. Those reactors lack the independent core cooling systems required by the regulator for all nuclear plants to operate after 2020. Vattenfall invested 900 million kronor ($93 million) to upgrade two younger reactors at the site.

“I regard it as completely ruled out, both technically and financially,” to reverse the decision to close the Ringhals reactors, Torbjorn Wahlborg, the company’s head of generation, said in an interview.  “It would require such a big investment and long halts.”

At its peak, nuclear energy accounted for about half of the nation’s power. Hydroelectric plants covered the rest. Now it’s 40%  and wind parks being built in the north of the country are seen as a major future source. The problem is that the growth of wind has not been able to match the decline in capacity at reactors and  fossil-fuel plants and Sweden is already depending on imports to meet demand on cold winter days.

A Sifo poll from March show that two thirds of Swedes want to keep or build more reactors. 

 In 2016, five political parties formed a long-term energy agreement that lowered nuclear taxes enough to allow life-span extensions of six reactors built in the 1980s until the 2040s, while four older reactors would be shut. But the largest opposition party, the Moderates, is now threatening to abandon that agreement unless it’s renegotiated to be more supportive of nuclear power. It has the support of the Christian Democrats, which is also part of the accord.

The Liberals, which were not part of the deal, has also proposed to extend the lifespan of Ringhals 1 and 2, and may get support from the nationalist Sweden Democrats, which also wants to invest in nuclear. The Moderates and the Christian Democrats have called for a review to be made into the possibility to stop the closure of the two reactors.

Still, it would be an uphill battle to garner enough support for any new energy plan, as the remaining parties in the agreement together with the Left Party have a majority in parliament. It all hinges on the governing Social Democrats. It wants nuclear power to be gradually phased out, but is under pressure from Swedish industry to change its stance.

As Vattenfall is fully state-owned,  the government could adjust its directive to extend the life-span of the reactors. Lobby groups for the forest, metals, chemical and mining industry are calling for an investigation to see if this is possible. This would however be against the spirit of the original agreement, where market-based decisions was a key-part to get parties with opposing views to compromise on energy, according to the Swedish government. …… https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-20/swedish-nuclear-plant-s-tiny-hole-nobody-has-seen-halts-revival

 

May 21, 2019 Posted by | politics, Sweden | Leave a comment

Doubts on safety of Sweden’s copper canisters for radioactive wastes

MKG 4th April 2019 [Machine Translation] SKB speaks to the government on copper corrosion:
“Still no problem” The power industry’s nuclear waste company On April 4,
SKB expressed its opinion to the government with a supplement to, in the
first place, certain that the copper canister will function as intended in
the planned final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark.
Not surprisingly, the company will claim that there are no problems. This is
the same claim that the court rejected in its opinion to the government on
January 23, 2018. In a first analysis, the environmental organizations’
nuclear waste review has concluded that the compilation is very weak and
does not show that the court’s concerns are unfounded. It is now important
that the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority performs a renewed thorough and
unconditional review of both the old and the new data.

http://www.mkg.se/skb-yttrar-sig-till-regeringen-om-kopparkorrosion-fortfarande-inget-problem

April 8, 2019 Posted by | safety, Sweden, wastes | Leave a comment

Swedish Environmental Court has concerns about speed of corrosion of copper nuclear waste canisters

GDF Watch 4th Nov 2018 , The company responsible for delivering Sweden’s deep geological repository, SKB, is planning to subject their research into copper
corrosion to international peer review in the new year. SKB believe this is
the most transparent and open way in which to address concerns about the
contentious issue, which has held up final decision-making on the Swedish
national repository for higher activity radioactive waste.
Earlier this year the Swedish Environmental Court largely approved SKB’s plans for a
geological disposal facility in Osthammar. However, the Court had concerns
about the speed at which copper canisters corrode and the potential
consequential environmental impact. Conflicting scientific evidence was
presented to the Court. The Court decided that this was something the
Swedish Government needed to consider further before any approval was given
to the planned radioactive waste disposal facility. The Swedish Government
asked SKB to provide additional information by 31 March 2019.
http://www.gdfwatch.org.uk/2018/11/04/sweden-copper-corrosion-update/

November 5, 2018 Posted by | safety, Sweden, wastes | Leave a comment

Sweden’s nuclear energy regulator wants nuclear reactor operators to produce plans for guarding against hot weather

Sweden calls for nuclear reactors to be shielded from hot weather, Business Times,  AUG 21, 2018 

A number of Swedish reactors had to shut down or reduce output as the summer heatwave sent temperatures to record highs in July, with the sea water that is used to cool them becoming much warmer than normal, exceeding safety levels. The last time that SSM, the Swedish radiation safety authority, asked operators to produce plans to modify their reactors was after Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. The cost of those changes, which are due by 2020, was in the hundreds of millions of euros.

“We really have to take into consideration what happened this summer … We have asked them orally to come with suggestions. Of course there will be a cost. I do not know how much at this stage,” said SSM chief Mats Persson said.

The cost of post-Fukushima modifications to Swedish nuclear plants reached as much as 100 million euros (S$155 million) per reactor, Persson said……..https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/energy-commodities/sweden-calls-for-nuclear-reactors-to-be-shielded-from-hot-weather

August 22, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Sweden | Leave a comment

Sweden’s Nuclear Code of Conduct under threat from populist political party

Populists May Rip Up Sweden’s Nuclear Code of Conduct, Bloomberg, By

  • Five party bi-partisan agreement from 2016 under threat
  • Energy system will be tested this winter after atomic closures

Sweden’s biggest ever cross-party energy deal was designed to provide stability for utilities for almost three decades, but the 2016 accord is now at risk of being ripped up after next month’s general election.

The Sweden Democrats, which some polls show could emerge as the biggest party, would revoke nuclear-plant closures central to the agreement if they came to power. The Christian Democrats, one of the accord’s co-signers, on Tuesday echoed that view and pressed for key parts of the deal to be renegotiated.

The agreement ended more than 30 years of bickering over nuclear power, extended support for renewable energy and stated that there should be zero emissions impacting the climate by 2045. It effectively boosted the lives of the nation’s six newest reactors until at least 2040, but didn’t address how the capacity of four older Vattenfall AB and EON SE units will be replaced. …….https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-16/nuclear-revival-talk-could-upend-historic-swedish-energy-accord

August 17, 2018 Posted by | politics, Sweden | Leave a comment

Swedish nuclear reactor cuts output, due to sea water being too warm

Warm sea water limits capacity at Vattenfall’s Ringhals 2 reactor https://www.reuters.com/article/sweden-nuclear-ringhals/warm-sea-water-limits-capacity-at-vattenfalls-ringhals-2-reactor-idUSL5N1UR376. Reuters Staff, STOCKHOLM, July 31 (Reuters) – Swedish utility Vattenfall said its Ringhals 2 nuclear reactor was running at 49 percent capacity on Tuesday as the sea water used to cool it nears an upper temperature limit.

Water from the Baltic Sea is used to cool several nuclear reactors along Sweden’s coastline, but temperatures are unusually warm following a prolonged period of hot weather.

Vattenfall on Monday posted plans to take Ringhals 2 out of operation after water reached that reactor’s 25 degree Celsius limit

However Vattenfall spokesman Peter Stedt said on Tuesday it had opted to keep capacity at 49 percent after the sea water cooled to 24 degrees, while closely monitoring water temperatures as the warm weather continued.

The 865-megawatt (MW) pressurized water Ringhals 2 reactor is one of four reactors, which produce around 20 percent of Sweden’s electricity. While Ringhals 3 and 4 are still online, Ringhals 1 is shut for annual planned maintenance. (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom Editing by Alexander Smith)

August 1, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Sweden | 1 Comment

Arctic circle countries ravaged by wildfires – Sweden worst affected

Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle as Sweden calls for help http://www.inkl.com/news/sweden-calls-for-help-as-arctic-circle-hit-by-wildfires?sharer=20552, By Jonathan Watts, July 18, 2018

At least 11 wildfires are raging inside the Arctic Circle as the hot, dry summer turns an abnormally wide area of Europe into a tinderbox.

The worst affected country, Sweden, has called for emergency assistance from its partners in the European Union to help fight the blazes, which have broken out across a wide range of its territory and prompted the evacuations of four communities.

Tens of thousands of people have been warned to remain inside and close windows and vents to avoid smoke inhalation. Rail services have been disrupted.

The Copernicus Earth observation programme, which gives daily updates of fires in Europe, shows more than 60 fires burning across Sweden, with sites also ablaze in Norway, Finland and Russia, including in the Arctic Circle.

Norway has sent six fire-fighting helicopters in response to its neighbour’s request for assistance. Italy is sending two Canadair CL-415s – which can dump 6,000 litres of water on each run – to Örebro in central southern Sweden.

In western Sweden, fire-fighting operations were temporarily halted near an artillery training range near Älvdalen forest due to concernsthat unexploded ordnance might be detonated by the extreme heat.

Residents in Uppsala said they could see the plumes of smoke and have been banned from barbecuing in national parks, after 18 consecutive days without rain.

“This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires. Whilst we get them every year, 2018 is shaping up to be excessive,” said Mike Peacock, a university researcher and local resident.

There have been huge fires in the past in Sweden, but not over such a wide area. This appears to be a trend as more and bigger blazes are reported in other far northern regions like Greenland, Alaska, Siberia and Canada.

The sparks come from a variety of sources: BBQs, cigarettes and increasingly lightning, which is becoming more frequent as the planet warms.

Swedish authorities say the risk of more fires in the days ahead is “extremely high” due to temperatures forecast in excess of 30C. Much of the northern hemisphere has sweltered in unusually hot weather in recent weeks, breaking records from Algeria to California and causing fires from Siberia to Yorkshire. Ukraine has been hit especially hard by wildfires.

The European Forest Fire Information System warned fire danger conditions were likely to be extreme across much of central and northern Europe in the coming weeks.

EU officials said many of this year’s fires are outside the traditional European fire zone of the Mediterranean, and are increasingly taking place at unexpected times of year. 2017 was the worst fire year in Europe’s history, causing destruction to thousands of hectares of forest and cropland in Portugal, Spain and Italy, as late as November. “There are clear trends of longer fire seasons and frequent critical periods in Europe that are leading to dangerous fire situations,” said a European commission official.

Climate scientists said the Arctic and other areas that were once relatively fire-free are likely to become more vulnerable.

“What we’re seeing with this global heatwave is that these areas of fire susceptibility are now broadening, with the moors in north-west England and now these Swedish fires a consequence of that,” said Vincent Gauci, professor of global change ecology at the Open University.

“Both these areas are typically mild and wet which allows forests and peatlands to develop quite large carbon stores,” he added. “When such carbon-dense ecosystems experience aridity and heat and there is a source of ignition – lightning or people – fires will happen.”

July 20, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Sweden | Leave a comment

China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) acquires 75% stake in Swedish wind power project

Reuters 18th July 2018 , China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has acquired a 75 percent
stake in a Swedish wind power project from Australia’s Macquarie Group
and GE Energy Financial Services, state news agency Xinhua reported on
Wednesday. The North Pole wind power project, located in Pitea, Sweden, is
expected to be operational by the end of 2019 with a capacity of 650,000
kilowatts, making it the single largest onshore wind power park in Europe,
Xinhua said.
https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-cgn-sweden/chinas-cgn-acquires-75-percent-of-swedish-wind-farm-xinhua-idUSKBN1K81IC?rpc=401&

July 20, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, China, renewable, Sweden | Leave a comment

32 years after Chernobyl, wild boars remain too radioactive to eat

The little piggies that won’t go to market, https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/04/29/chernobyl-boars-still-radioactive/Wild boars remain too radioactive to eat, 32 years after Chernobyl, By Linda Pentz Gunter

Wild boars in Europe, parts of the former Soviet Union and Japan are too radioactive to be safe for human consumption. That sounds like good news for the boars. But only partly so.

The boars are radioactively contaminated due to fallout from the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine nuclear power plant explosion. They were vulnerable because they love mushrooms and truffles. These fungi absorbed the cesium-137 fallout released by the Chernobyl nuclear explosion.

Because they lack stems and roots, mushrooms and other fungi use absorption to obtain nutrition from the atmosphere through their surface cells. As a result, they are prone to absorbing radioactive substances such as cesium-137 and other radionuclides.

When the boars eat the mushrooms and truffles, that radioactive contamination moves up the food chain. The mushrooms are also too radioactive for human consumption.

Between 2014 and 2016, nearly half of the 614 wild boar inspected in the Czech Republic were too radioactive to eat. In Germany, more than one in three boars killed by hunters were also radioactive.

Consequently, hunters in Saxony, Germany, 700 miles from Chernobyl, still have to have any boar they kill tested first for radioactivity.

Hunters in Sweden are equally wary of killing and eating wild boar, which have been found to be 10 times more radioactive than the “acceptable” (but, as always, not “safe”) limits for consumption.

Wild boars have of course been affected in Japan as well, since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Apart from roaming at will through the deserted prefecture — where they have even been observed entering and occupying abandoned houses — these animals also carry cesium contamination. However, one study at least has shown that their cesium levels are significantly lower than those of boars affected by Chernobyl fallout.

The unsuitability of wild boars for human consumption resulting from Chernobyl may sound like a win for boars and the vegetarian cause. But this radioactive contamination may come at a price. To date, studies of wildlife in the Chernobyl and Fukushima zones have shown that even if numbers of animals appear to have increased due to the absence of human predators, the health of these species contaminated with radiation has been seriously compromised.

Birds, mice and insects have demonstrated low to zero sperm counts, a tendency to tumors and cataracts, smaller brains, and shorter lifespans. Examination of muscle tissue and bone marrow in Macaque monkeys living in the contaminated areas of Fukushima yielded ominous signs. The monkeys had significantly low white and red blood cell counts as well as a reduced growth rate for body weight and smaller head sizes. The bone marrows of these monkeys were found to be producing almost no blood cells. Instead, the bone marrow has turned almost entirely into white-looking fat.

So far, Europe’s wild boar seem to have been evaluated only in relation to their contribution as a food source. Missing from the studies is what might be happening to the health of the boars themselves, and the implications for future generations of these animals.

“Gleaning the contamination levels of boars once they are killed is not enough,” says Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear, who looked at published studies on boars and radioactivity. “There is no history of their contamination level or any comparison to any damage they may have suffered. The genes could tell us that, but it appears no one is looking.”

Such changes, especially to DNA, can take many years and several generations to manifest as disease. But if negative outcomes do occur, this could signal a decline in the species, with repercussions for other animals along the food chain as well.

“Wild boars are one of the biomagnifiers of radioactivity in the environment,” added Folkers. “They dig in soil that might be slightly contaminated with cesium, inhaling and ingesting it, and foraging for mushrooms, which they then ingest. They are part of the ecosystem that keeps the cesium circulating.”

April 30, 2018 Posted by | environment, Sweden, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste containers: the problem of corrosion in copper canisters

The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later. 

the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is to carry out an expert peer review of a Canadian research programme on microbiologically influenced corrosion of canisters that will be used to dispose of used nuclear fuel.

The Copper Corrosion Conundrum  No2Nuclear Power  http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NuClearNews_No105.pdf

The Swedish Environmental Court has rejected the 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. Now it is up to the Swedish government to make a final decision.

The Environmental Court took into consideration viewpoints from all parties in the case, including scientists who have raised concerns about disposing 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) presented the shortcomings of this method of disposal. For many years, the environmental organisations have been arguing that the Nuclear Waste Company SKB need to listen to critical scientists, and investigate alternative disposal methods, especially the possibility of developing a very deep boreholes disposal system. (1) Johan Swahn, Director at MKG said:

“Several independent researchers have criticized both the applied method and the selected site. There is a solid documentation base for the Environmental Court’s decision. It is hard to believe the Swedish Government’s conclusions will be any different from the Court’s.”

MKG has made an unofficial translation into English of the Environmental Court opinion. (2)

The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later. The translation shows the courts judicial argumentation and why it decided not to accept the regulator – the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s (SSM’s) opinion that the problems with the integrity of the copper canister were not serious and could likely be solved at a later stage in the decision-making process. The court is quite clear in its statement and argumentation:

“The Land and Environmental Court finds that the environmental impact assessment meets the requirements of the Environmental Code and can therefore be approved. All in all, the investigation meets the high standards set out in the Environmental Code, except in one respect, the safety of the canister.” (Emphasis added)

“The investigation shows that there are uncertainties, or risks, regarding how much certain forms of corrosion and other processes can impair the ability of the canister to contain the nuclear waste in the long term. Overall, these uncertainties about the canister are significant and have not been fully taken into account in the conclusions of SKB’s safety analysis. The Land and Environmental Court considers that there is some leeway for accepting further uncertainties. The uncertainties surrounding certain forms of corrosion and other processes are, however, of such gravity that the Court cannot, based on SKB’s safety analysis, conclude that the risk criterion in the Radiation Safety Authority’s regulations has been met. In the context of the comprehensive risk assessment required by the Environmental Code, the documentation presented to date does not provide sufficient support for concluding that the final repository will be safe in the long term.” (Emphasis added)

The court says that the application is only permissible if the nuclear waste company SKB:

“…produces evidence that the repository in the long term will meet the requirements of the Environmental Code, despite remaining uncertainties regarding how the protective capability of the canister may be affected by: a. corrosion due to reactions in oxygen-free water; b. pit corrosion due to reaction with sulphide, including the contribution of the sauna effect to pit corrosion; c. stress corrosion due to reaction with sulphide, including the contribution of the sauna effect to stress corrosion; d. hydrogen embrittlement; e. radioactive radiation impact on pit corrosion, stress corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement.”

The main difference between the court’s and the regulator’s decision-making was that the court decided to rely on a multitude of scientific sources and information and not only on the material provided by SKB. It had also been uncovered that the main corrosion expert at SSM did not want to say yes to the application at this time that may have influenced the court’s decision-making. In fact there appear to have been many dissenting voices in the regulator despite the regulator’s claim in the court that a united SSM stood behind its opinion.

The court underlines in its opinion that the Environmental Code requires that the repository should be shown to be safe at this stage in the decision-making process, i.e. before the government has its say. The court says that some uncertainties will always remain but it sees the possible copper canister problems as so serious that it is not clear that the regulator’s limits for release of radioactivity can be met. This is a reason to say no to the project unless it can be shown that the copper canister will work as intended. The copper canister has to provide isolation from the radioactivity in the spent nuclear fuel to humans and the environment for very long time-scales.

It is still unclear how the process will proceed. The community of Östhammar has cancelled the referendum on the repository, as there will be no question from the government in the near future. The government has set up a working group of civil servants to manage the government’s handling of the opinions delivered by the court and SSM. SKB has said that it is preparing documentation for the government to show that there are no problems with the canister. Whether the government thinks this will be enough remains to be seen. This is likely not what the court had in mind. The government would be wise to make a much broader review of the issue. There is a need for a thorough judicial review on the governmental level in order to override the court’s opinion. Otherwise the government’ decision may not survive an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.

There are eminent corrosion experts who believe that copper is a bad choice as a canister material. There is also increasing experimental evidence that this is the case. The court’s decision shows the importance of democratic and open governance in environmental decisionmaking. It is important that the continued decision-making regarding the Swedish repository for spent nuclear is transparent and multi-faceted. (3)

Copper Canisters The canister has to enclose the nuclear waste for a very long; it is the final repository’s primary safety function. The canister has a 50 mm thick copper shell with an insert of cast iron. The canister must withstand corrosion and mechanical stress.

The investigation on the capability of the canister is extensive and involves complex technical and scientific issues. These include groundwater chemistry, corrosion processes, as well as creep and hydrogen embrittlement (this latter affects the mechanical strength of the canister). However, the parties taking part in the court proceedings disagreed on several issues crucial to the final repository’s long-term security.

The Land and Environmental Court considered the following uncertainties regarding the canister to be most important in the continued risk assessment:

  • 1. General corrosion due to reaction in oxygen-free water. The parties have different views on scientific issues surrounding this kind of corrosion. The Court found that there is considerable uncertainty on this topic that has not been taken account of in SKB’s safety analysis
  • .· 2. Local corrosion in the form of pit corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. The Court found that there is significant uncertainty regarding pit-corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. This uncertainty has not been included in the safety analysis. In addition, there is uncertainty about the sauna effect, which may have an amplifying effect on pit corrosion.
  • · 3. Local corrosion in the form of stress corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. The Court found that there is significant uncertainty regarding stress corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. This uncertainty has not been included in the safety analysis. In addition, there is uncertainty about the sauna effect, which may have an amplifying effect on stress corrosion.
  • · 4. Hydrogen embrittlement is a process that affects the mechanical strength of the canister. The Court found that significant uncertainty regarding hydrogen embrittlement remains. This uncertainty has not been taken account of in the safety analysis.
  •  · 5. The effect of ionizing radiation on pit corrosion, stress corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement. There is significant uncertainty regarding ionizing radiation impact on pit corrosion, stress corrosion and hydrogen sprays. This uncertainty has been included to a limited extent in the safety assessment.

Meanwhile, the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is to carry out an expert peer review of a Canadian research programme on microbiologically influenced corrosion of canisters that will be used to dispose of used nuclear fuel. The NNL has been contracted by Canada’s National Waste Management Organisation (NWMO) to review its work on the potential for corrosion of the copper-clad canisters. The NWMO is responsible for designing and implementing the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel under a plan known as Adaptive Phased Management. This requires used fuel to be contained and isolated in a deep geological repository, with a comprehensive process to select an informed and willing host for the project.

The used fuel will be isolated from the environment using a series of engineered barriers. Fuel elements comprise ceramic fuel pellets, which are themselves highly durable, contained inside corrosion-resistant zircaloy tubes to make fuel elements. Bundles of fuel elements are placed into large, durable copper-coated steel containers which are designed to contain and isolate used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository, essentially indefinitely. The canisters will be placed in so-called “buffer boxes” containing by bentonite clay, providing a fourth barrier.

World Nuclear News reports that although copper is highly resistant to corrosion, under anoxic conditions – that is, where no oxygen is present – sulphate-reducing bacteria have the potential to produce sulphide, which can lead to microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC) of copper. Waste management organisations and regulators therefore need to understand the levels of sulphide that will be present in a geological disposal facility, to understand its potential to migrate to the canister surface and the potential for it to cause copper corrosion, the NNL said.

The NWMO has been actively developing computer models that will be used to evaluate the potential for MIC once a disposal site has been selected, and has selected the NNL to carry out a peer review of its work because of the UK laboratory’s expertise in the biogeochemical processes that could affect repository performance and in developing computer modelling techniques that simulate the effects of sulphate-reducing bacteria. The work is linked closely with NNL’s participation in the European Commission Horizon-2020 MIND (Microbiology in Nuclear waste Disposal) project. (4

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Reference, Sweden, wastes | Leave a comment

Landmark Swedish Court Judgment against Nuclear Waste Repository

Landmark Swedish Court Judgment against Nuclear Waste Repository: Read the English Translation  http://www.dianuke.org/landmark-swedish-court-judgment-nuclear-waste-repository-read-english-translation/

MKG, the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review has made an unofficial translation into English of the Swedish Environmental Court opinion on the power industry’s Nuclear Waste Company SKB’s license application for a final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark, Sweden.

The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later. The translation shows the courts judicial argumentation and why it decided not to accept the regulator SSM’s opinion that the problems with the integrity of the copper canister were not serious and could likely be solved at a later stage in the decision-making process.

The main difference between the court’s and the regulator’s decision-making was that the court decided to rely on a multitude of scientific sources and information and not only on the material provided by SKB. It had also been uncovered that the main corrosion expert at SSM did not want to say yes to the application at this time that may have influenced the court’s decision-making. In fact there appear to have been many dissenting voices in the regulator despite the regulator’s claim in the court that a united SSM stood behind its opinion.

The court underlines in its opinion that the Environmental Code requires that the repository should be shown to be safe at this stage in the decision-making process, i.e. before the government has its say. The court says that some uncertainties will always remain but it sees the possible copper canister problems as so serious that it is not clear that the regulator’s limits for release of radioactivity can be met. This is a reason to say no to the project unless it can be shown that the copper canister will work as intended. The copper canister has to provide isolation from the radioactivity in the spent nuclear fuel to humans and the environment for very long time-scales.

It is still unclear how the process will proceed. The community of Östhammar has cancelled the referendum on the repository, as there will be no question from the government in the near future. The government has set up a working group of civil servants to manage the government’s handling of the opinions delivered by the court and SSM. SSM has told the government that it is ok to say yes to the license application.

The court has stated that there are copper canister issues that need to be considered further. The nuclear waste company SKB has said that it is preparing documentation for the government to show that there are no problems with the canister. Whether the government thinks that this will be enough remains to be seen. This is likely not what the court had in mind. The government would be wise to make a much broader review of the issue. There is a need for a thorough judicial review on the governmental level in order to override the court’s opinion. Otherwise the government’ decision may not survive an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.

There are eminent corrosion experts that are of the opinion that copper is a bad choice as a canister material. There is also increasing experimental evidence that this is the case. One problem for the court was likely that SKB has hesitant to do the required corrosion studies that show that copper does not corrode in an anoxic repository environment. The 18-year FEBEX field test shows that copper corrodes relatively rapidly with pitting corrosion. SKB says that all corrosion is due to in-leaking oxygen but it is now clear that experimental systems containing copper and clay become anoxic within weeks or months so this explanation is not valid. 

MKG has for long wanted SKB to retrieve the next experimental package in the LOT field test in the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory. SKB had refused. The remaining packages have now been heated for 18 years. When a 5-year package was retrieved in 2006 it was discovered that there was “unexpectedly high corrosion”. There is clearly a need for more lab and field test results to decide whether copper is a good and safe choice for a canister material.

The court’s decision-making shows the importance of a democratic and open governance in environmental decision-making. It is important that the continued decision-making regarding the Swedish repository for spent nuclear is transparent and multi-faceted.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | environment, Sweden, wastes | Leave a comment