Hermetically sealed for 100,000 years – Sweden builds nuclear waste repository
Several European countries see nuclear energy as a transitional technology in the energy transition. Sweden is now even building a modern nuclear waste repository at a depth of 500 meters. “We are doing this to take responsibility,” says the Environment Minister.
SSweden has given the green light to plans for the disposal of radioactive fuel elements under the earth’s surface. The radioactive waste is to be kept in a repository near Forsmark for at least 100,000 years. “We do this to take responsibility, both for the environment and for people, but also for Sweden’s long-term power generation and Swedish jobs,” Environment Minister Annika Strandhäll told journalists on Thursday.
The announcement by the Social Democratic government came after the project had been delayed for years. The disposal site is near a nuclear power plant, about 130 kilometers north of Stockholm.
The spent fuel rods are first placed in cast-iron cases. These sleeves are then slipped into copper tubes which, if properly sealed, are said to remain airtight for 100,000 years. They are kept half a kilometer underground, surrounded by crystalline rock.
Greenpeace criticizes plans
Sweden is thus following the example of neighboring Finland, which is currently building a repository in Eurajoki on the south-west coast of the country. The repository is about to be completed and is scheduled to go into regular operation in 2025 after a test phase. The two countries are the first to give the green light for this type of disposal facility.
“Together with Finland, we are the first in the world to take responsibility for our nuclear waste,” said Strandhäll. She praised the project as a “safe repository solution”.
The environmental organization Greenpeace criticized the move as a decision with “100,000-year consequences”. Greenpeace referred, among other things, to the “too great uncertainty” of the project. It is an “irresponsible” decision.