Five Swedish reactors risk closure by 2028 due to tardy nuclear waste decision

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OSLO, May 5 (Reuters) - Five Swedish nuclear reactors may need to close between 2024 and 2028 because a temporary site for storing spent fuel will soon be full and the government has yet to approve a final waste repository, their operating companies said on Wednesday.

The Forsmark 4 reactor risks closure in 2024, followed in 2025 by Forsmark 3, Ringhals 3 and 4 and finally Forsmark 1 in 2028, the operators said in urgent market messages posted via power exchange Nord Pool.

Ringhals is owned by a consortium comprising Vattenfall (VATN.UL) and Uniper (UN01.DE), while Forsmark is owned by the same two companies in addition to Fortum (FORTUM.HE) and Skelleftea Kraft.

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A Swedish government decision on used nuclear fuel storage must be made no later than Aug. 31 this year to avoid exceeding the permit for the interim storage site a Oskarshamn, the firms added.

The interim site, known as Clab, has sought to expand its storage from 8,000 tonnes to 11,000 tonnes, according to its operator SKB. It currently holds 7,300 tonnes.

Meanwhile, a final repository planned at Forsmark has received approval from relevant stakeholders, according to Vattenfall, the majority owner and operator of the plants.

"We have ongoing contact with government representatives, but a decision before end of August this year is necessary in order not to endanger electricity production at our nuclear production units," Vattenfall said in a statement to Reuters.

The decision on the repository was "one of the biggest environmental questions ever in Sweden", Environment Minister Per Bolund said.

The matter was high priority, but there was a risk the process would not be complete before the interim storage facility was full, he told Reuters in an emailed statement.

"We are therefore looking at the possibility of deciding on the Clab interim facility separately from the repository in order to avoid a situation where there is no storage capacity in Sweden," Bolund said.

Nuclear power - all situated in southern Sweden - provided around 30% of the country's electricity production in 2020, official data shows.

The Ringhals 1 reactor closed at the end of last year, while the country's remaining six reactors could be producing power until the early 2040s.

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Reporting by Nora Buli in Oslo and Simon Johnson in Stockholm; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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