Sweden nuclear waste firm revamping storage plan, sees decision by mid-2020

OSLO, June 12 (Reuters) - Sweden’s nuclear fuel and waste management company (SKB) will meet a January deadline to submit new information in support of its application to build a permanent radioactive refuse store, and expects a decision by mid-2020, it told Reuters on Tuesday.

SKB’s application for the nuclear waste repository, needed to replace an interim storage facility it is currently using, was dealt a blow earlier this year when an environmental court said it was not sure of the proposed plan’s safety.

The company is working on additional requested research and will submit it by Jan. 7, 2019, a deadline set by Sweden’s environment and energy ministry, which will in turn rule on the application, said SKB spokesman Simon Hoff.

“We have just received the request by the ministry to continue with the application and submit the additional documents by January 7. We are doing the research needed and will produce what is needed by then,” he said.

The court’s objections to SKB’s application, otherwise supported by Sweden’s radiation safety authority, were due to concerns over the ability of the designed capsules to contain the nuclear waste in the long term.

“After we hand the documentation, the ministry should decide on the application by the first half of 2020,” said Hoff.

The permanent repository, designed to store up to 12,000 tonnes of spent fuel from Sweden’s nuclear plants, could take 10 years to complete and the country’s nuclear plant operators have raised concerns about the delays in authorising it.

“It is important that we get a solution in place for the permanent storage of nuclear waste as soon as possible .... Expediting this matter must be prioritised to prevent the process from becoming drawn-out and costly,” Vattenfall chief executive Magnus Hall said in April.

Of Sweden’s eight nuclear reactors in operation, Vattenfall controls seven. The eighth belongs to OKG, a unit of Germany’s Uniper.

Six power reactors and two research units are being decommissioned in Sweden, with a third research unit already dismantled. (Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Editing by Mark Potter)