The Swedish Environment Court has rejected a proposed final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark, Sweden.

Nuclear safety campaigners welcomed the ruling and criticized the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company for what they considered an unacceptable solution.

Hailing the decision as “a triumph”, Johan Swahn, Director of MKG, the Swedish NGO office for nuclear waste review said:

[This] concerns waste that will be hazardous for thousands of years. Several independent researchers had criticized both the applied method and the selected site. 

The management of nuclear waste and spent fuel is a hot topic in the EU, where 26.4% of electricity is produced by nuclear. In Sweden, that figure is 40%.

While Sweden has one of the most decarbonised economies in Europe, the country has used nuclear energy alongside renewables to produce its electricity.

Despite more than sixty years of nuclear power plant operations, no country has yet opened a permanent storage site for spent nuclear waste. Various underground research laboratories are studying ways to develop a permanent waste management scheme.

The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company proposed disposing of spent nuclear fuel in copper canisters, a method criticized by scientists because of copper’s potential to corrode.

Swedish EEB members the Office for Nuclear Waste Review and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation fought the proposed repository and presented its shortcomings in comparison to alternative methods.

Nuclear repository will affect future generations as nuclear waste is likely to remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years, even as its radioactivity decreases over time.

In Finland, plans for the construction of a permanent nuclear repository have been being developed since 1980. The construction of this deep geological repository started in 2005 and the installation is supposed to be operational by 2020. With this technique, nuclear waste will be buried deep in the earth for the next 100,000 years. The Finish project will cost around €3billion.

Responding to the news, EEB Policy Officer Roland Joebtl told META:

The costs and conflicts arising from hazardous nuclear waste again show that we are better, and cheaper, off meeting our energy needs with the safe and reliable combination of renewables and improved energy efficiency.

The Swedish government must now decide whether or not the project should be allowed to continue, but campaigners feel confident about the outcome of the debate.

Waiting for the Swedish government’s final decision, Johan Swahn said:

It is hard to believe the Swedish Government’s conclusions will be any different from that of the Court’s.