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IAEA Mission Commends Sweden’s Management of Nuclear Power Plant Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel, Encourages Improvements for Governance of Some Other Radioactive Waste

Stockholm Sweden
ARTEMIS Sweden IAEA Mission Group visit Aspo

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission said that Sweden has a comprehensive, robust and well-functioning system for safely managing radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants and commended the country’s development of a concept for spent fuel disposal. The mission advised Sweden to improve its national policies and strategies for non-nuclear radioactive waste that originates, for example, from industrial uses, research, or medical applications.

The Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) team concluded the eleven-day mission to Sweden on 27 April. The team comprised eight experts from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United States of America and three IAEA staff members.

The mission was carried out at the request of the Government of Sweden to support the country in meeting the European Union (EU) obligations under the Council Directive on radioactive waste and spent fuel management. The mission was hosted by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM). An observer from the European Commission attended the mission.

Sweden generates more than 30 per cent of its electricity from six nuclear reactors. Radioactive waste primarily originates from the operation of these nuclear reactors. Radioactive waste also originates from medical and research institutions and industry and consumer products such as smoke detectors. There is also an amount of radioactive waste from past activities which is stored pending disposal.

The ARTEMIS team found that Sweden demonstrates a solid commitment to ensuring the safe implementation of nuclear radioactive waste and spent fuel management activities in the country, including its efforts towards establishing a deep geological facility. The team recognized the way in which Sweden has developed and implemented the KBS-3 concept for spent fuel disposal as a good practice. The review team leader, François Besnus, Director of Radioactive Waste Safety Division of the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), said, “the government has established conditions for the KBS-3 technique to be developed into a mature concept, earning widespread support among stakeholders”.

The team also identified recommendations and suggestions to maintain and further improve the safe and responsible management of radioactive waste in Sweden, including:

  • Ensuring that safe management routes are made available for all types of radioactive waste and that sufficient resources are appropriately allocated for this purpose.
  • Using the national plan as a strategic planning component to monitor the implementation of the national policies.
  • Establishing a stakeholder forum to coordinate preparations for the future disposal facility for long-lived radioactive waste.

“Sweden is an example for all IAEA Member States of the safe management of spent fuel, said Hildegarde Vandenhove, Director of the IAEA Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety. “I am confident that the recommended improvements related to the safe management of non-nuclear radioactive waste will be considered and implemented.”

“Sweden is proud to be at the forefront in planning and implementation for the disposal of spent fuel and nuclear waste, and we are grateful that the national arrangements that have enabled this to be the case are recognised by the review team as a significant achievement,” said Daniel Westlén, State Secretary to the Minister for Climate and the Environment. “We recognise that certain challenges remain to be addressed, in particular relating to the comprehensive provision of arrangements for long-term management of non-nuclear radioactive waste, and we will continue to work in these areas.”

The final mission report will be provided to the Government in two months.


ARTEMIS is an integrated expert review service for radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes. This service is intended for facility operators and organizations responsible for radioactive waste management, as well as for regulators, national policy makers and other decision makers.

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements, and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. IAEA documents such as Nuclear Energy Series publications are also included in the review basis. They include practical examples to be used by owners and operators of utilities, implementing organizations, academia, and government officials in Member States, among others.





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