A fundamental aspect of radioactive waste handling is knowledge about the risks connected with the waste and to have a strategy for how to handle, transport and finally safely store it in accordance with national regulation and international recommendations. As the waste is classified based on level of radioactivity and other factors, different schemes for different waste types are needed.
All activities connected to waste management must be assessed and evaluated to guarantee safety and minimise the risk of contamination or release of radioactive materials.
SKB is unique in its mission to be responsible for the entire back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. SKB has almost 40 years of experience of operating nuclear back-end facilities and has invested greatly in planning safe facilities to close the nuclear fuel and waste cycle. This includes both:
- Operation of several types of nuclear facilities (Final repository for Low and Intermediate level waste (LILW) and Interim storage for spent nuclear fuel).
Establishing and upholding a safety analysis report (SAR) in accordance with nationals regulation and international recommendation for unique nuclear facilities for almost 40 years has resulted in incomparable experience in back-end facilities, including planned future facilities such as an encapsulation facility and a deep geological repository (DGR).
- Safety after closure of a repository.
SKB has been the world leader when it comes to developing a safety assessment methodology for a geological repository. Using knowledge gained from Swedish crystalline bed rock, the methodology is to great extent applicable to all geological formations. The Safety Assessment forms the basis of Safety Cases that can be evaluated and is one of the most important factors in the licensing process. The methodology is now the backbone in international recommendations (e.g. IAEA SSR-5), consisting of:
– multiple safety functions,
– number of physical barriers (multibarrier system), and
– safety cases.
SKB International is in a unique position to support other nations’ radioactive waste programmes by developing, reviewing and optimising their efforts and projects with regards to the safety assessment of all essential steps in the back-end of the nuclear power production.
Based on SKB’s knowledge and experience it is strongly recommended that a waste programme initiates the safety assessment at an early stage and develops and enhances the safety assessment in an iterative process. Such a strategy, whether it is operational safety or safety after closure, enables the waste organisation to identify areas of optimisation and possibly avoid issues that can occur as the different areas or systems are integrated.
SKB’s experiences in multiple scientific fields and the integrated systems and also knowledge of certain mistakes (also a valuable experience) is of great value to younger waste programmes. SKB International can provide support in training, advice and reviews.