24 October 2019 |

SKB secretly retrieves experimental packages that can decide the future of the spent fuel repository

In response to a direct question from MKG at meeting on October 16 organised by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority SSM, the nuclear waste company SKB answered that experimental packages in the LOT experiment have been retrieved – without transparency to any other actors. The LOT test is carried out in the Äspö hard rock laboratory. The analysis of copper corrosion in the retrieved 20-year old LOT packages can decide the issue of the suitability of copper as a canister material in the planned. 

In a letter to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, MKG and its member organisations state that it is of the utmost importance that the results of the experiment are reported openly and handled in accordance with good scientific practice. And that results regarding copper corrosion are available before the government decides on the permissibility of the planned nuclear spent fuel repository in Forsmark. 

The question of copper's suitability as a canister material has long been surrounded by a scientific controversy, and since the Land and Environmental Court's opinion to the government came on January 23, 2018, the issue has become increasingly important for the future of the nuclear fuel repository.

During a meeting organized by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) on October 16, 2019, to inform about the nuclear waste company SKB's new research program Fud-2019, the company stated – in response to a direct question from MKG – that the next experimental package had been retrieved from the LOT experiment. Later it was discovered that two 20-year old packages had been retrieved. One package remains in the experiment.

There has been no information about this from the company before, nor in the research program Fud-2019. The company has also said that the results of the retrieval will not be reported until after the government has granted construction licenses both according to the Environmental Code and the Nuclear Technology Act.

MKG and its member organisations have for many years argued that the next LOT package must be taken up and analysed with regard to how much copper corrosion has taken place. The organisations understand that if retrieval and analysis is done properly, it can be determined whether copper is a suitable canister material or not for the spent nuclear fuel repository.

In addition, the organisations have demanded that the retrieval be made with full openness and with quality assurance of the results. This has not yet happened for the inclusion of the S2 package.

In a letter to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority SSM, MKG and its member organisations state that it is therefore of the utmost importance that the regulator acts to enable that the results can have the role necessary in the government’s ongoing environmental review of the spent nuclear fuel repository.

For the organisations, it is self-evident that sufficient reporting of copper corrosion results have to come before the government decides on permissibility under the Environmental Code. The retrieval has now been done without transparency and quality assurance. The nuclear waste company SKB has a tradition, in contravention of scientific practice, of only reporting results that the company believes in and which do not risk the future of the repository project.

The letter to SSM can be found as a PDF on MKG:s Swedish web page.

See also the following news articles on MKG:s English pages:

MKG and member organisations send a statement to the government on SKB's complementary copper information 190930 >>

SKB sends complementary information on copper corrosion to the government 190404 >>

The government gives SKB the opportunity to comment on the opinions from the court and regulator 180601 >>

The Swedish Environmental Court’s no to the final repository for spent nuclear fuel – a victory for the environmental movement and the science 180123 >>

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