There is no copyright on this text. Reproduction is encouraged. Please mention the source.
Edited by Miles Goldstick.
Published by The Peoples' Movement Against Nuclear Power And Weapons ("Folkkampanjen mot kärnkraft och kärnvapen").
ISBN: 91-87200-99-7 (softcover). Out of print.
Many people donated their labour to make this booklet possible. Those who made many valuable comments on the text include Sven Anér, Mary Davis, David Lowry, Alar Olljum, Herb Rains, Nicola Ramsden, Andy Sterling, and Scott Spellerberg. Tobbe Östling helped with the graphics work. Thank you also to Eia Joss-Liljegren for helping with production, and to Herb Rains for assisting with the typing.
Most of the information presented on high-level waste is based on the May 1987 Swedish language booklet "Nuclear Waste" ("Kärnkraftavfall") published by The Waste Network ("Avfallskedjan") and translated by Håkan Larsson (1). Peter Frederiksen helped a great deal with the section on Klipperås. Maj-Britt Andersson and Mats Törnqvist provided most of the information on The Final Storage For Reactor Waste (SFR-1).
History is full of mistakes. Most were forgotten right away. Some were disastrous, but usually only for single persons or small groups. The connection between mistakes and progress is often clear. Proverbs such as "You learn from your mistakes" exist in many cultures. "It's human to make mistakes" is also said with awareness of human shortcomings. Thus in the past, mistakes could be made, regretted, contemplated - and tolerated. Sometimes a whole people was affected, but human survival was never threatened. In fact, mistakes can create new knowledge and inventions.
Now, after many thousands of years of human development, nuclear technology has brought humanity to a turning point. For the first time there is the possibility of total human destruction. Humanity has trespassed into hidden atomic powers where a common "mistake" can not be tolerated. The large quantities of nuclear waste produced by about 400 commercial nuclear reactors in about 30 countries has put survival itself at stake. The wastes are capable of poisoning the Earth for us and thousands of unborn generations. Added to this is the threat of mega-death by nuclear weapons.
Knowledge of the problems of the nuclear industry can frighten and paralyze. Nevertheless, as people actively resisting the nuclear threat, we know that concerned people have the ability and are responsible enough to turn the threat into meaningful action.
The information documented here is not presented to judge past crimes, but to learn from the experience of mistakes. We separate myth from reality and dare to see the new reality created by increasing amounts of radioactive waste. We hope that our booklet will provide knowledge and insight that will assist in the international struggle for a world without nuclear weapons and growing piles of waste.
Björn Helander, and
In an unprecedented international public relations ploy, the Swedish nuclear industry has gained an international reputation for having "solved" the nuclear reactor waste problem, be it low-, medium-, or high-level waste (2). For example, SwedPower, an organization representing three Swedish power companies, wrote in 1986:
"...under Swedish law, the owner of a new reactor is obliged to prove that the radioactive waste can be disposed of in a safe manner. This proof has been provided by the Swedish utilities..." (3)
In recent years, official foreign delegations have regularly visited Sweden to see the "solution" first hand, and representatives of the Swedish nuclear industry have often traveled abroad to promote their system. By invitation, in January 1987, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) made a presentation to the United States Senate Committee On Energy And Natural Resources (4).
The information presented here proves that the nuclear waste problem is NOT solved, and that in Sweden there is strong resistance against the nuclear industry. Municipalities in Sweden have used their veto power to stop uranium mining and construction of nuclear reactors. Further, public protest has helped stop construction of a reprocessing plant and site investigations for a high-level waste storage facility. Despite these and other victories (such as a Government policy against food irradiation) (5), public opposition has not been able to stop the nuclear industry entirely. However, its expansion has been severely limited. Sweden is the only nuclear nation that has set a date (the year 2010) by when all its nuclear reactors will be shut down.
The following pages examine the basis for the Swedish decisions, concerning low-, medium-, and high-level nuclear reactor waste. The focus is on the storage problem of high-level waste, or used reactor fuel, as this has been the subject of the longest and greatest controversy (used reactor fuel is also called "spent" or "irradiated fuel"). In recent years, the public has also strongly protested against the under seabed storage plans for low- and medium-level nuclear reactor waste. Thus, a summary of this problem is also included. Few technical details about waste storage facilities and nuclear reactors in Sweden are presented. An annotated address list of the Swedish nuclear industry is included in Appendix 2.
The problem of uranium mine wastes is beyond the scope of this booklet. Only 250 tonnes of uranium have been mined in Sweden, 200 tonnes at Ranstad and 50 at Kvarntorp. Production stopped because the environmental problems were unacceptable, and at the same time it became much cheaper to buy abroad. Industry's attempts to open mines at Pleutajokk and Lilljuthatten continued until December 1985 when the Energy Minister announced an end to Sweden's uranium exploration program. Thus, all plans for uranium mining in Sweden have been stopped, and purchases from abroad must continue. The 12 nuclear reactors in Sweden consume about 1,400 tonnes of uranium per year. The Energy Minister stated that uranium can be purchased abroad cheaply. However, the Minister did not mention the many long-term social and environmental problems at the source (6).
Also not discussed in this booklet is the import into Sweden of low- and medium-level reactor waste by the two companies Studsvik and ASEA-ATOM. The volume of radioactive garbage is reduced by burning it in a high-temperature furnace operated by Studsvik. The type of garbage burned and storage of the ashes, is a controversial topic.
High-level nuclear waste has existed in Sweden since the first research reactor started to operate in the 1950's. But the serious, public nuclear power debate did not begin in Sweden until the 1970's and was mostly concerned with problems of reactor operation and security. At that time there was a low public consciousness about the difficulties of handling nuclear waste. Further, no economic planning of waste management had been done.
In 1972, the amount of waste began to grow quickly. In that year, large scale nuclear waste production began with the start-up of the first commercial nuclear reactor, Oskarshamn 1. Also in 1972, the first "investigation" was initiated by the Swedish Government to try to solve the waste problem. More studies were to follow.
The spent fuel problem became more and more controversial during the 1980's. By then the Swedish Government had approved a strategy of storing high-level waste 500 meters underground in copper canisters. Test drilling into bedrock had to be carried out to find a site for the storage facility. In each area targeted for test drilling, local opposition groups, now totalling 12 over the whole country, of varying size and organizational structure were spontaneously formed. Some of these are conventional registered societies, whereas others are action groups organized with a minimum of formality.
The first chapter reviews some of the general problems with nuclear waste, particularly from the military and global perspectives. Specific information about the nuclear waste problem in Sweden begins in Chapter 2. Some terrifying information about political decision making in Sweden is presented, for example that important parliamentary decisions dealing with nuclear weapons in Sweden were not obeyed.
Chapter 3 explains how in 1979 Sweden became the first country to officially declare the nuclear waste problem "solved". A historic decision was made, with which few people now agree. Reports were written by the nuclear industry to conceal the fact that bedrock had been approved as suitable without field investigations having been carried out; and that the "solution" did not include the total quantity of spent fuel. Falsifications of this kind opened the way for nuclear power. Sweden eventually had more nuclear power per capita than any other nation in the world. Consequently, Sweden also had the most nuclear reactor waste per capita to take care of.
The 1980 referendum on nuclear power is discussed in Chapter 4. To the best of our knowledge, this chapter and the "Kärnkraftavfall" booklet are the only published sources of information about how the responsible authorities used the referendum to manipulate the waste issue.
Sweden has the reputation of being a neutral and peace-loving country totally opposed to nuclear armament. You wouldn't think it possible that any political party or any government would allow over four billion crowns (US$615 million) of electric power taxes to be diverted to foreign nuclear weapons interests, partly in order to finance the construction of a plant where plutonium for more weapons is to be extracted. No, this of course sounds completely unbelievable. Reading Chapter 5 will help you decide for yourself what the situation is. This Chapter also mentions the role of the IAEA and Swedish participation in it.
Chapter 6 briefly outlines how economic responsibility for nuclear waste in Sweden is to be dealt with. Again we explain how laws act more to protect the nuclear companies than to guide them.
Chapter 7 describes protests and company tactics at four different test drilling sites for a high-level nuclear waste storage facility. Incidents at the different drilling sites are not described in detail, except when such description serves to clarify questions of tactics and principle (7).
In Chapter 8 the focus switches to low- and medium-level reactor waste. Here, the problems of the waste storage facility called The Final Storage For Reactor Waste (SFR-1) are summarized. A history of the opposition to SFR-1 is also given.
Chapter 9 explains the role of the municipal veto and the attempts to weaken it. A conclusion and epilogue then follow. A solution to the waste problem is not proposed. However, an attempt is made to establish what must be done in order to get out of the moral quagmire surrounding the nuclear waste problem.
Nuclear power is a product of the development of nuclear weapons during the second world war. Almost all the technical processes known and employed by the nuclear industry today were invented at that time with the aim of manufacturing bombs. Those who possess the necessary know-how and run nuclear reactors can also manufacture nuclear weapons. The link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power remains obvious, although it is not recognized by all, particularly not by the advocates of nuclear power. In France and the U.S.S.R. on the other hand, the Government makes no official distinction between civilian and military nuclear technology.
Ironically, in the first years of the nuclear industry, the most desired product of nuclear technology was the spent reactor fuel. This is because once uranium fuel is used in a nuclear reactor, plutonium, the most suitable fissile material for making bombs, is formed. By rather basic chemical processes, called "reprocessing", the plutonium may be separated from spent fuel and used in weapons. Even so-called "reactor plutonium" produced from nuclear fuel used in civilian electricity producing nuclear reactors, can be used in nuclear bombs. The U.S. military has proven this by detonating reactor plutonium in an experimental bomb.
The use of highly enriched uranium, the only other fissile material used in nuclear bombs, is much more difficult as greater demand is put on technical and economic resources (8). Thus, the first large nuclear power station in the United States was operated for over six years with the only aim being production of nuclear "waste". The energy produced was unwanted and unused.
All reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel should be opposed because it makes plutonium easily available for weapons production. Direct storage of existing spent nuclear fuel without reprocessing is better but still fails to guarantee against future bomb making. In Sweden, the high-level waste storage methods which have been discussed up until now, are not designed to prevent deliberate encroachment. With time, spent nuclear fuel becomes more tempting to bomb makers as it inevitably decays into "cleaner" weapons-grade plutonium. This is because the radioactive isotopes decay at different rates resulting in the proportion of plutonium-239 increasing over time.
During the long introductory epoch of nuclear power, from the 1940's to the late 1950's, there was officially no spent fuel problem, for the simple reason that irradiated fuel was a coveted, classified military material. Naturally, the technicians employed in the development and running of reactors must have been conscious of the spent fuel waste problem, but as far as outsiders go, the problem was almost non-existent. Strangely, this attitude lingered on among wielders of power and opinion makers as late as 1970, and in some extreme cases even longer. As part of the preparations for large-scale Swedish nuclear development in the 1960's, the bizarre claim was made that the waste was totally negligible and, furthermore, that the very small amount that would occur would be needed for medical purposes. Many facts indicate that those responsible for the development really were seriously uninformed, or, rather, misinformed.
Nuclear waste produced by reactors and uranium mines remains radioactive for so long that it must be isolated from biological processes for hundreds of thousands of years. Unfortunately, such isolation is at present impossible, even using the most advanced technology.
Regardless of the dangers, large quantities of civil as well as military waste are being disposed of in more or less temporary and questionable ways, often in the immediate vicinity of the nuclear power plants or other nuclear related facilities. Some of these installations have already polluted their environment for an indeterminate length of time and should be considered nuclear sacrifice areas. Dispersed radioactivity has contaminated these areas to such a degree that they pose a deadly threat to human life. Some examples are Savannah River and Hanford, U.S.A.; Kyshtym and Chernobyl in U.S.S.R., and Sellafield (Windscale) in England. Other nuclear sacrifice areas have been created as a result of nuclear bomb testing carried out by the U.S.A., France, U.S.S.R., England, China, and India. Some well known nuclear-bomb contaminated areas are the Bikini and Muroroa Islands in the South Pacific and Novaja Zemlya in the U.S.S.R.
There are about ten areas on the Earth where nuclear technology has devastated possibilities for normal life now and far into the future. However, the most important thing isn't the number or size of nuclear sacrifice areas, but the fact that the released, long-lived radioactivity cannot be stopped from spreading further in food chains via air and water.
By the continual circulation of and interchange between air, water, and organic material, Sweden is connected to all other countries and they to Sweden. Thus, it is not enough only to handle the Swedish waste in a satisfactory way and to stop the Swedish production of waste. If only a single country that has nuclear waste fails to handle it safely, life on Earth will be threatened. The catastrophe at Chernobyl has demonstrated the global connections. There, according to the Soviets, only a small portion (3-5%) of the radioactive material in the reactor core leaked out from just one reactor. Yet a whole culture, the Saami in Scandinavia, thousands of kilometers away, was threatened by the immediate effects of the accident (cesium fallout). Since 70-85% of the long-lived isotopes (i.e. plutonium) fell inside the drainage basin of the Baltic Sea, the general long-term effects on Sweden cannot yet be determined.
From a long-term perspective, it doesn't make much difference where the radioactivity leaks out. The waste contains isotopes so long-lived that they have time to spread all over the Earth, concentrate in food chains (as PCB's have done) and then decline very slowly in radioactivity over thousands of years. Thus, the global connections make the whole world's nuclear waste everyone's concern.
As difficult as the economic aspects are, an even more difficult obstacle is political instability. Is there any country in possession of atomic power that, seen against the background of history, can guarantee the technical, social, and political stability necessary to deal with the waste problem over thousands of generations? For every one of the world's hundreds of reactors, politicians from a later generation will be forced to invest huge amounts of money, not for current problems or to make popular gestures for the benefit of voters, but to clean up after past generations.
The perspective becomes even more frightening if we consider the present political situation in some of the nuclear nations. For example, there are not only unstable countries in a state of near bankruptcy like Mexico and Poland, but also powder kegs like South Africa and Israel. How will the complicated and sensitive problem of nuclear waste be approached if unscrupulous dictators like Marcos or Somoza gain power, not to mention tomorrow's equivalent of madmen like Nero, Hitler, and Idi Amin? Is it realistic to believe that actions of war and sabotage will never in the future, not even for thousands of years, involve any vital installation connected to nuclear power or waste anywhere on Earth?
Unfortunately, nuclear weapons production and nuclear power in general have already created tonnes of plutonium waste. Most countries lack the sense of responsibility and the physical qualifications for initiating a safe storage program for existing wastes, let alone for the quantity expected in the future. Further, many nuclear nations also are at risk from earthquakes and volcanos, which in the blink of an eye can destroy safety programs and spread nuclear waste throughout the biosphere.
In 1985 the leaders of the French Government ordered the sinking of a Greenpeace vessel, which was taking part in a peaceful campaign against the detonation of nuclear bombs and poisoning of the Pacific area with plutonium. This act of terror was committed by one of the world's leading nuclear states and a so-called "western democracy". One can only hope that other nations do not share such a morbidly twisted attitude towards global responsibility.
The continued use of nuclear power in the world is based on, among other things, the assumption that there is a solution to the waste problem. However, there is no natural law stating that every technical or scientific problem actually has a solution. The waste problem is not solved and may not have a satisfactory solution at all. From a moral and ethical point of view two questions emerge:
Neither question is simple to answer. The first is a question of solidarity and responsibility towards ourselves and coming generations, even towards life itself. The utmost must be done, with all available resources as soon as possible, to take care of the waste which already exists. Otherwise, the whole problem will be left to the coming generations. This means that people opposed to nuclear power must not only support meaningful research but demand that it be given all resources that can be mobilized.
For the second question, judgment must be based upon the technical and scientific possibilities for finding a solution that eliminates the danger now and forever. We must guarantee the utmost safety for the wastes for hundreds of thousands of years in the future. Will society be able to build, operate and guard the necessary facilities? And how many of the approximately 30 countries embroiled in nuclear technology will be able to afford such costs? Perhaps most of the industrial countries, but not many third world countries. It is not realistic to think that the third world nations which presently struggle to meet their basic needs have the resources to set aside large sums of money for future nuclear waste programs. Despite this fact, the IAEA, Western atomic power companies (including ASEA-ATOM in Sweden) and other atomic industrial interests are making great efforts to supply more and more third world countries with nuclear power technology.
Are we capable of judging how the coming generations of human beings will react to the nuclear waste they inherit? The unknown aspects are so great that it is not morally acceptable to produce nuclear waste based upon the hope of future solutions. The question of whether more waste should be produced, i.e. if continued operation of nuclear power stations should be allowed, must be answered with a clear and unequivocal "No!".
During the 1950's and 1960's, advocates of nuclear power in Sweden promoted a technical strategy involving domestic uranium mining, heavy water reactors (that do not require enriched fuel) and reprocessing. The official reason given for the strategy was energy self-sufficiency. The Swedish nuclear industry boasted that there was more uranium in Sweden (in low-grade shales) than in any other nation in the world. The reactors were to be built by, among others, the then Swedish-controlled ASEA-ATOM (9). Towards the end of the 1960's the attempt at nuclear self-sufficiency was abandoned in favor of light water reactor technology (requiring imported enriched fuel). As late as 1974, not less than 24 reactors were scheduled at Brodalen, Ringhals, Barsebäck, Oskarshamn, Södermanland, and at Forsmark (10). At the beginning of the 1970's, the waste problem was still "non-existent", and eventual reprocessing, perhaps domestic, was a foregone conclusion. The rationale for reprocessing was the high cost of purchasing uranium abroad, and the fear that Swedish uranium supplies would be insufficient. In the long run, the aim was probably also to establish breeder reactors, which are fueled with plutonium.
After an intensive debate in 1959, the Swedish Parliament deferred any decision about nuclear weapons to the future. However, from 1957 it was government policy not to allow research on construction and testing of nuclear weapons, including research on construction of the necessary factories. Then in 1968, largely due to the efforts of a small group of women politicians, Parliament took a definite decision against procurement of nuclear weapons. This decision was disregarded by the proponents of nuclear weapons, even after 1970 when Sweden signed the Non-proliferation Treaty.
In April 1985, the Swedish nuclear strategy was finally revealed by the newspaper Ny Teknik (New Technology) to be a nuclear weapons program in civilian disguise (11). The most important parts of the program were the uranium mine in Ranstad, the planned nuclear power station in Marviken (12) and the reprocessing plant in the Sannäs area.
For more than two decades, an inner circle of politicians, technicians, and members of the military, kept their preparation for the production of nuclear weapons a closely guarded secret. The research was planned so that a nuclear weapon could be made with as little advance notice as possible, if the government changed their policy. The first goal was production of ten Nagasaki-class bombs per year.
In 1960, the Swedish military, without the knowledge of Parliament, made a secret contract with a company called AB Atomenergi (later renamed Studsvik Energiteknik AB) to develop and operate a plutonium reprocessing plant. The company chose to locate the plant near Sannäs, as far from the Baltic Sea as possible. There, caves could be excavated in the stone cliffs to hide the operation. In 1963 AB Atomenergi made its first purchase of land in the Sannäs area, which was eventually expanded to 230 hectares in 1966. A major portion of the money to buy this land came directly from the Swedish military.
However, concern about the dangers of nuclear technology worried local people. Finally in January 1970 a public meeting was held with AB Atomenergi. Opposition to the reprocessing plant was overwhelming. The municipal council then unanimously threatened to use their veto (see Chapter 9) to stop construction of the reprocessing plant in their area. The local protest helped result in the plans for the reprocessing plant being dropped.
But the weapons program did not end there. Between 1971 and February 1972 the military carried out a series of ten conventional explosions of imported weapons grade plutonium. The Swedish Ministry of Defense has acknowledged possession of "not more than 110 grams" of plutonium, imported in the late 1950's and early 1960's from France and Britain. The explosions were made at Ursvik, just north of Stockholm, in underground steel and rubber shielded chambers. Between five and ten grams of plutonium together with tens of grams of conventional explosives were used in each of the explosions. These were not nuclear explosions, i.e. there was no release of energy from the fissioning of atoms. The major purpose of the experiments was to measure the effects of explosive pressure on plutonium and the relation between volume and pressure. These types of tests are the final stage in preparation for exploding a nuclear bomb. The Swedish military was unable to get the required information from the U.S. and thus felt compelled to perform its own tests.
The official explanation for the explosions was "defense research". But, it is known that at the same time within certain circles of people, it was feared that Sweden would become one of the few European countries without nuclear weapons. In fact at least two pieces of hardware for use in a nuclear bomb were built in Sweden. The first was a neutron pulse generator, which is the final trigger for a nuclear bomb. The second was a nuclear implosion unit, that is a cone of explosives surrounding the plutonium core. When the cone is activated, it compresses the plutonium core to a critical mass (13). Further, the Swedish company Bofors was expected to build parts of the bomb.
The 1985 revelations by "Ny Teknik" resulted in the Parliament initiating an investigation. The final report of the investigation was completed in April 1987 (14). Over 200 pages of the report were stamped "secret" and not released to the public. A question remaining to be answered is what happened to the plutonium contaminated fallout after the explosions.
Research and development of nuclear weapons was carried out with complete disregard for the repeatedly stated government policy forbidding it. Despite this being publicly revealed, the full official investigation has not been made public. No politician, prosecutor, or other official has chosen to reveal the truth. Does not even the highest level of government have to follow parliamentary decisions, including those concerning matters of nuclear technology?
Military motives delayed the serious recognition of the waste problem for two decades. By the time efforts towards solving the problems began to be made, nuclear technology (civilian as well as military) had become well established. The industry did not recognize the possibility of the waste problem ending all nuclear reactor development. Possibly because proponents of nuclear power had a case of bad conscience in the face of the terrifying effects of nuclear weapons, they began to point to nuclear power as the saviour of the future, and to describe it as "clean, limitless energy available at almost no cost at all." In the 1960's, which were characterized by optimistic views of technology and the future, such visions were not questioned.
The Swedish nuclear waste storage philosophy was established by the final report (1976) of the Commission on Radioactive Waste, called the AKA Commission ("AKA-utredningen") (15). The AKA Commission proposed that low-, medium- and high-level waste be stored underground in bedrock at the same site. The high-level waste was to be encapsulated in canisters (16). The committee maintained that there would be no seepage of radioactive matter because of the absence of fractures in the rock. The risk of bedrock deformations and earthquakes was considered non-existent. But this is not the case in the modern geodynamic view of the earth's crust (the continental drift theory), which had not yet been fully accepted in Sweden. The low- and medium-level waste storage facility and the high-level waste facility were to be developed simultaneously. SFR (see Chapter 8) has been built for low- and medium-level waste but the high-level waste facility has not yet appeared.
It was the AKA Commission that first proposed the strange Swedish division of responsibilities, according to which the nuclear companies take care of all practical work towards a solution of the waste problem, and the State is restricted to playing a merely supervisory role. Thereby, the Swedish Government has assumed a very passive role compared to other governments with access to nuclear technology.
Following a recommendation of the AKA Commission, an "independent" research council was established called PRAV (the Program Council For Radioactive Waste). For all practical purposes, this agency ended up in the pocket of the nuclear establishment. PRAV shared offices and a switchboard with SKBF (Swedish Nuclear Fuel Supplies Ltd.), a company owned by the nuclear industry. Also, the activities of PRAV were paid for by the nuclear industry, which also carried out the majority of its research. Furthermore, close personal alliances are known to have existed between AKA, PRAV, and SKBF.
The environmental movement strongly criticized the pro-nuclear bias of PRAV, which led to PRAV being disbanded in 1981. The division of responsibilities then became even more refined. All research was taken over by SKBF, which is owned by the four nuclear utility companies and supervised by a Government institution, the NAK (The Committee For Spent Nuclear Fuel). These twin actors have since changed names to SKB (Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company) and SKN (The National Board For Spent Nuclear Fuel). SKB's responsibility includes all handling, transportation, and storage of the spent fuel and other radioactive waste from the nuclear plants, and all the planning and construction of facilities required for the necessary research.
The Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) was established in 1976. SKI supervises all nuclear installations, and at the time of its founding also had responsibility for handling start-up applications.
One of the main reasons that nuclear power became politically controversial in Sweden during the early 1970's was the fact that the Center Party ("Centerpartiet"), then led by Thorbjörn Fälldin, took a strongly anti-nuclear position. The pro-nuclear position of the Social Democrats ("Socialdemokratiska arbetarepartiet") was a major factor in their defeat in the 1976 election, after holding Government for over 40 years (17). They were succeeded by a non-socialist, three party coalition made up of the Center, Liberals ("Folkpartiet"), and Conservatives ("Moderata Samlingspartiet"). A conflict over the issue of nuclear power was built into the new Government from the start, with the Center Party being against and the Liberals and Conservatives for nuclear power. The Liberal and Conservative Parties would not accept the Center Party into the coalition unless they would agree to give start-up permission to the already constructed Barsebäck 2 reactor. The Center Party agreed, thus abandoning their strictly anti-nuclear position. As a conciliatory measure, the Center Party was allowed to appoint the Minister of Energy (Olof Johansson).
Attempting to put an end to further escalation of nuclear power, the Center Party wrote the so-called "Stipulation Act" ("Villkorslagen") which was passed by the Swedish Parliament in April 1977. At that time six reactors were operating (Oskarshamn 1 and 2, Barsebäck 1 and 2, and Ringhals 1 and 2), two reactors were nearing completion (Forsmark 1 and Ringhals 3), while work had not yet begun on two additional reactors (Forsmark 3 and Oskarshamn 3).
According to the Stipulation Act, the proprietor of a reactor has to meet one of two conditions before its reactor can start operating. The Act reads as follows:
"Operating permission is to be granted only if the reactor owner:
- has established a contract for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, and, further, has proven how and where a completely safe final storage facility can be constructed for the highly radioactive waste, or
- has proven how a completely safe final storage facility for spent, unreprocessed nuclear fuel will be constructed and where it will be located."
Without question these severe conditions should have served to prohibit more reactors from reaching operational status. In fact, it is presently technically impossible to achieve a "completely safe final storage".
The motives for passing the Stipulation Act have been intensely debated. The basic philosophy of the law is to prevent the production of waste, unless final storage has been provided for. The environmental movement shares this philosophy. Had the law been put into practice, this would have meant a victory.
The Stipulation Act put strong pressure on the nuclear industry to try and figure out either how to handle the waste safely or to convince the decision makers that they had done so, in order to obtain permission to start operating new reactors. The consequence of this was that difficulties were belittled, problems ignored, objections and criticisms left for the future, while poorly substantiated claims were confidently broadcast.
The nuclear industry interpreted the Stipulation Act as requiring that the reactor owner had to prove the existence of bedrock sufficient for waste storage at a depth of 500 meters. To gain such proof, 500 meter deep shafts would have to be dug and several tunnels drilled at the 500 meter level. Geologists would then either find fissures or otherwise unsuitable rock, or prove, for the site in question, that a sufficient amount of suitable rock really existed. Such a process would take several years, and the industry didn't want to wait that long. With pressure being exerted because new reactors were ready to start, the waste issue was transformed. It became not a question of fulfilling the Stipulation Act but of circumventing it with silent, official consent.
Through their common company, SKBF, the nuclear power companies launched the "Nuclear Fuel Safety Project" ("Projekt Kärnbränslesäkerhet", or KBS). In November 1977, after only nine months, a waste storage proposal called KBS-1 was submitted to the Government, based on the assumption that the spent fuel would be reprocessed. SKBF stated that the proposal fulfilled the Stipulation Act. In actuality they elaborated on the proposal of the AKA Commission concerning reprocessing, encapsulation and final storage under 500 meters of bedrock. The KBS-1 method did not deal with the total quantity of waste. The documentation did not state what would be done with the plutonium, which simply was not defined as waste. Consequently the plutonium was not understood to be a waste by either the nuclear companies, supervisory authorities, or politicians.
The proposal was first submitted to a number of agencies for consideration, in Sweden as well as abroad. It was severely criticized on almost every detail. Among the items singled out for heaviest criticism was the fact that no bedrock fulfilled the conditions set by KBS-1.
As the day of the Government's decision about KBS-1 approached, the two parties in favor of nuclear power (Conservative and Liberal) collaborated behind the Center Party's back. Secretly, Anders Wijkman (Conservative) and Carl Tham (then Liberal) planned with a member of the nuclear power establishment (Ingvar Wivstad from the KBS project) to produce a proposal which, on September 29, 1978, was officially not accepted by the Government, but in practice was. That is, the Government accepted all points in the plan except one that they characterized as "minor".
At the press conference announcing the decision, Prime Minister Thorbjörn Fälldin (Center) was severely attacked by journalists who believed he had again capitulated. While Thorbjörn Fälldin wiped sweat from his brow and got wrapped up in complicated explanations, a relaxed and smiling Gösta Bohman (Conservative leader) contended that the new reactors were now 99% ready to start.
On the evening of the press conference, members of the Center Party from all over the country attacked the party leadership who then realized that they had been swindled by their coalition partners in the Government. As a consequence, the three-party Government was dissolved and succeeded by a Liberal Government.
What hadn't been solved (the "1%", according to Gösta Bohman's vocabulary) was proof of suitable bedrock. Everything else had been accepted by the Government, which in doing so also disclaimed responsibility for the rock's suitability. This responsibility, the so-called "political bore holes", fell to SKI after the test drilling program had been completed. Quite correctly SKI observed that they lacked geological know-how.
A special group of geologists was appointed to the task of supervising the drilling operations. Seven of the eight participating geologists concluded that the test holes showed that the Sternö bedrock in southeast Sweden was not suitable. Nonetheless, the board of SKI, made up mostly of politicians, ruled by majority that the KBS-1 application satisfied the demands of the Stipulation Act concerning a completely safe storage area. The board of SKI wrote:
"The importance of the rock barrier must not be exaggerated provided that the other barriers are functioning to satisfaction."
As if not to go completely against their own group of geologists, SKI approved a part of the Sternö bedrock where no test holes had been drilled. Everywhere else the holes had proved the existence of fissures, whereas the KBS-1 proposal required a fissure-free bedrock. Where no test holes had been drilled, no fissures had been observed.
The actions of the Center Party during this period were contradictory. They had initiated the severe Stipulation Act but then were obviously not prepared to go to battle for their own interpretation of the law. Even worse, in September 1978, when the final decision was made that the bedrock issue had to be handled by SKI, not the Government, the Center Party abandoned their own continued influence on the issue for the sake of peace in the Government. Within the SKI board there was only one person from the Center Party, against five from the pro-nuclear parties. Maybe the leaders of the Center Party thought that politicians within the board of a regulatory authority would not behave as normal politicians who follow the party line.
Although the leaders of the Center Party possibly believed that they could stop the start-up of new reactors, the other parties in the Government (Conservative and Liberal) knew that the KBS managers were completely satisfied with the Government decision. The Conservatives and Liberals had in fact secretly, without knowledge of the Center Party, agreed with the KBS managers about the conditions of the decision.
KBS-1 was followed in 1978 by KBS-2, which dealt with the direct final storage of spent nuclear fuel without reprocessing. In principle, the solution was the very same, placing containers of fuel under 500 meters of bedrock. Nevertheless, the KBS-2 design was sent out for international review. Due to weeding out of the most critical agencies, many of the objections that had put KBS-1 in a bad light were dropped. Of the 23 foreign authorities involved in consideration of KBS-1, only six were used for the analysis of KBS-2. It is no surprise that many of the most forceful critics were not consulted a second time. KBS-2 was never used in legal decision making.
In June 1979, the new Liberal Government formally approved the KBS-1 method, stating that KBS-1 fulfilled the Stipulation Act. Shortly thereafter, the strongly sought license to fuel Sweden's seventh reactor was granted. The requirement that waste storage be completely safe for thousands of years had been devalued to "safe enough" for starting another six reactors, and the "KBS Affair" was history. Unfortunately, such political manipulation is not an isolated incident in modern Sweden. Bofors, the Swedish weapons manufacturing company located in Karlskoga, was discovered in 1987 to be extensively trading weapons with India by bribing Indian officials. Bofors also smuggled weapons to middle eastern countries via Singapore. The smuggling took place right in front of passive regulatory authorities within and outside of the Swedish Government. The KBS and Bofors affairs seem to point towards scandals of this kind occurring regularly (18).
However, in a strictly legal sense the Stipulation Act was not violated by the Government decision to approve KBS-1. The Government had the right to make the decision as to what was "safe", and is the highest interpreter of laws of this kind. The fact is that the KBS-1 method did not meet the conditions of the Stipulation Act. Regardless, the Stipulation Act was not essential for the formal approval of KBS-1. The question is if the true reality or the Government approved, formal, reality is valid?
In 1982, the Social Democrats were re-elected to power. To exculpate themselves, they abolished the Stipulation Act, and the licenses given earlier according to the Act were changed! Instead, the meek Act On Nuclear Activities ("Kärntekniklagen") was passed, which deals with nuclear technology as a whole. This law puts no serious demands on the nuclear industry. Concerning the high-level waste problem, the new law requires that research on waste disposal be carried out, and that if the Government finds the research promising, the reactor owner may continue to produce wastes. This decision is to be re-examined every third year starting in 1987. Considering that much of the serious criticism has been deliberately omitted, this "reconsideration" will become more of a formality than a real examination.
Since the KBS method existed only in theory, and it was preferred not to store the growing quantities of spent fuel at the reactor sites, the Government decided in 1980 to build The Central Storage Facility For Spent Nuclear Fuel (CLAB). This large cavern, about 30 meters underground, is located at the Oskarshamn nuclear reactor site. The spent fuel from all the reactors will be transported to CLAB after being stored at the reactor sites from six months to a year. According to SKB, CLAB cost US$250 million to build and has an annual operating cost of US$10 million (19).
CLAB began operating in 1985 and is expected to be used for 40 years, prior to "final disposal" at a yet undetermined site (20). It has an underground wet storage capacity of 3,000 tonnes of spent fuel in four pools, and room for expansion. By January 1987, more than 400 tonnes of spent fuel were stored in CLAB (21).
The decision making process for CLAB was the same as that for KBS, and SFR-1 (explained in Chapter 8). That is, SKB made the proposal and the Government approved it without seriously considering criticism. Further, there is no doubt that CLAB was approved to reduce the pressure to find a "permanent" storage method.
In May 1983, when Oskarshamn 3 and Forsmark 3 were nearing operational status, the nuclear industry presented KBS-3, a more comprehensive version of KBS-2 aimed at direct disposal without reprocessing. The disposal facility became known as the "Final Repository For High-level And Long-lived Waste", shortened in Swedish to "SFL".
When the KBS-3 design was sent out for review, critics of nuclear power demanded that the reviewers which had been excluded between KBS-1 and 2 be included again. However, the Government excluded even more reviewers. The excuse given by the Energy Minister was that the Government was already familiar with the criticisms of the earlier KBS methods, which would be taken into consideration. SKI was commissioned to put together the documents giving the basis for approval of KBS-3. But SKI did not consider earlier criticisms, despite the Energy Minister's assurances. KBS-3 was approved and the last two reactors were given permission to start fueling in June 1984.
In summary, the KBS affair is a scandal in the Swedish administration at the highest level. The scandal brought down one government and caused the public to mistrust the regulatory agency SKI. After 15 years of investigations, the country has been put in a position where there is no reliable authority to take care of spent nuclear fuel. But for the nuclear power companies, the Stipulation Act and the KBS method in versions one and three fulfilled their task; permission was given for fueling and operation of new reactors. The reactors that received fueling permission based on KBS-1 in 1979 were Forsmark 1 and Ringhals 3. Later, KBS-1 was also used to give fueling permission to Forsmark 2 and Ringhals 4. Permission to fuel Forsmark 3 and Oskarshamn 3 were based on KBS-3. Licenses to operate all nuclear reactors are now based on KBS-3 and the Act On Nuclear Activities.
In medieval times the church decided the Earth was flat. In the same way, the Swedish Government decided in 1979 that the nuclear waste issue was solved. The church decision eventually had to be changed.
The madness connected with the Stipulation Act of course resulted in widespread protest. But in the same way as the servants and supporters of the medieval church could not accept the truth about the Earth, all newspapers connected to the pro-nuclear parties (Conservative, Liberal, and Social Democratic) could not admit the swindle. Or rather, they didn't want to admit it.
In other words, the majority of the ruling politicians and most of the mass media thought it acceptable to tamper with the law for "a good cause". Because, otherwise, the new reactors wouldn't have been able to start.
On March 28, 1979, the Three Mile Island accident at Harrisburg, U.S.A. occurred. The outcry in Sweden resulted in a sudden government acceptance of the old demand from the environmental movement for an advisory referendum on nuclear power. The Social Democrats, with their sights set on the September general election, changed their minds overnight, from not supporting to supporting the referendum. In spite of the referendum being postponed until March 23, 1980, the Social Democrats lost the election by a hair, and a new short-lived three-party coalition took over.
The referendum turned into yet another demonstration of political manipulation and lack of honesty. Voters were given three alternatives to choose between, each supported by one or two political parties represented in the Parliament, as summarized below. All three alternatives called for an eventual end to nuclear power, though the number of reactors and time frame differed. Line 3 was called the "quick stop" alternative, and lines 1 and 2 were called "slow stop" choices.
Doubling the number of nuclear reactors and an eightfold increase in the operating time was unashamedly described as "decommissioning" and named line 1; and line 2, being a minor variation of line 1, was named "decommissioning with common sense". Even the Conservatives, who didn't want to decommission at all, called line 1 decommissioning.
In the beginning there were two choices: a "slow stop" and a "quick stop". As the voting date drew nearer, public opinion clearly favoured the "quick stop" choice. To split the vote, the Social Democrats added a second "slow stop" choice. All over the world, people found it hard to understand why three alternatives were needed in a referendum. After all, the basic thought behind any referendum is to vote yes or no.
Summary Of The Alternatives For The March 1980 Referendum On Nuclear Power, And Results Of The Vote
Line 1 (18.9%): (supported by the Conservative Party) the six reactors under construction may be completed, bringing the total to a maximum of 12; and all the reactors should be closed down at the speed possible considering the need for electrical power to maintain full employment and welfare.
Line 2 (39.1%): (supported by the Social Democratic and Liberal Parties) same as line 1 with the requirements that: "important nuclear power plants" should be owned by the Government or the local municipalities ("kommuner"); and that measures should be taken to guide the consumption of electricity, including prevention of direct electrical heating in new permanent buildings.
Line 3 (38.7%): (supported by the Center and Communist Parties) no more nuclear power plants should be brought into operation and the six operating plants should be phased out in ten years.
Of all eligible voters, 75.7% voted, which is low in Sweden; and there were 3.3% blanks. Based on the outcome, the Parliament decided in 1980 to limit the total number of reactors to 12 and to abandon nuclear power by the year 2010 (22). It is estimated that by that year the 12 reactors will have produced 7,800 tonnes of spent fuel (23).
The high number of votes given to lines 2 and 3, should have also resulted in Parliament taking action to limit direct electrical heating in new buildings. However, even though the Social Democratic party has been in power most of the time since 1980, direct electrical heating in new homes has increased greatly, and has been a major factor in the large increase in electricity consumption. Further, to date, no practical steps have been taken to modify the Swedish energy system in preparation for closing the reactors down.
It is not well known that the waste issue was manipulated in the referendum. In preparation for the referendum, the Government made a decision to the effect that if line 1 and 2 together defeated line 3, it would mean that the demands of the Stipulation Act concerning a totally safe final storage of nuclear waste were satisfied by the KBS-1 method (24). According to this decision, it didn't matter at all whether the KBS-1 method was satisfactory or not. The important thing was to beat line 3 in the referendum. Only when this had been done, would everybody assume that the Stipulation Act had been fulfilled, and that the waste issue had been solved "in a completely safe way".
Please take careful notice of the mental disarray! First, one Government decided that the KBS-1 method satisfies the demands of the Stipulation Act in spite of:
Next, the following Government left the whole issue to be decided in a referendum dealing with completely different issues!
If line 3 had won, about one tenth the quantity of waste would have been produced, but the waste problem would be worse. This is because the waste problem would no longer be perceived as solved, even though the quantity of waste would be less than if the problem was solved. This is nuclear logic!
The absurdities are piled on top of each other in the KBS affair. It is not acceptable to ignore the truth by resorting to Governmental decisions or by using referenda. Such a mentality belongs to the dark Middle Ages, when people could decide that the Earth was flat. The approval of KBS-1 is preposterous.
The Swedish policy expressed by the Social Democratic Government says that each country should take care of its own nuclear waste. This is good in principle, but it has not been put into practice.
The Swedish nuclear power establishment openly boasts that Sweden is best in the world (25). Together, the UN nuclear energy organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Swedish Government and Swedish nuclear companies share the responsibility for the myth about Sweden having "solved" the waste problem. The responsibility of the Government arises through approval of the KBS method. The IAEA is in part responsible because the two Swedish IAEA leaders Sigvard Eklund and Hans Blix, have promoted Sweden as a site for an international nuclear garbage dump. For example, on May 21, 1987 Hans Blix stated in a lecture at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg that,
"Sweden is a country that could possibly store radioactive waste from the world's nuclear power stations. Due to ancient, stable rock formations, Sweden has very favorable conditions for storing nuclear waste" (26).
The Swedish Government must issue forceful official denials of these myths and cancel all plans to import waste. Sweden must also point out that Hans Blix is only expressing strictly personal views in a very irresponsible way, and that he in no way represents Sweden.
Further, the 140 tonnes of spent fuel from Swedish reactors sent to the reprocessing plant at Sellafield (formerly Windscale) in England and the 57 tonnes sent to La Hague in France, must be immediately returned to Sweden. Not only do these reprocessing plants produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, they also have well-documented histories of discharge of radioactive material into the surrounding environment. The radioactive discharge from Sellafield is one of the world's worst sources of contamination from nuclear installations.
In addition, Sweden must not import foreign nuclear waste by stealth through trumped-up exchange agreements. One such exchange resulted from the COGEMA agreement, explained below.
The KBS-1 method was approved in 1979. It assumed that spent fuel would be reprocessed. The approval included a reprocessing agreement with the French nuclear company COGEMA. The authorities declared the agreement secret, in spite of continued demands that it be made public. However, much of the agreement was leaked to the environmental movement which then made it public (27). It was disclosed that the agreement in no way contained any guarantees for complying with the Stipulation Act.
In actuality, the only item guaranteed by the agreement was the investment of four billion Swedish crowns (US$613 million) in the French UP3 reprocessing plant at La Hague. This unit is expected to begin operating in 1989, when, according to the agreement, the French would try to reprocess the Swedish spent fuel. If this was unsuccessful, the spent fuel was to be returned. The UP2 reprocessing plant at La Hague opened in 1966, though was not equipped to reprocess light water fuel (like that received from Sweden) until 1976. The UP2 unit is notorious for its direct supply of plutonium to the French nuclear weapons program and its poor safety record.
It is notable that the plutonium part of the waste was totally overlooked in the KBS plan. Or was it in fact a foregone conclusion that the plutonium would be handed over to the French nuclear weapons program under cover of silence? Later, plans to mix the plutonium into reactor fuel (known as MOX - mixed oxide fuel) were made public, but these plans could not be economically justified.
The reprocessing agreement with COGEMA, signed in order to attain fueling permits for Swedish reactors, is a moral catastrophe and puts to shame the official anti-nuclear weapons policy. Swedish politicians secretly gave economic support to the French nuclear weapons program in the face of the Swedish peoples' united opposition to all nuclear weapons. For Swedish credibility in this issue to be regained, the contract with COGEMA must be cancelled. This should not entail suspicious exchange affairs with West Germany (explained below) or others interested in reprocessing. The COGEMA contract should be ended immediately so that no further payments take place. From a moral perspective it is completely legitimate for Sweden to refuse further payments and demand that the waste already shipped to La Hague be returned.
The COGEMA agreement showed the carelessness of nuclear power companies and politicians in handling the nuclear waste issue. In 1982, despite recognition of Sweden's contribution to the French nuclear weapons program, the Social Democratic Government continued this catastrophic connection with France. In the midst of protests by the environmental and peace movements, including full page advertisements in the daily press, the Swedish Government allowed further shipments of spent fuel by the Swedish vessel SIGYN to La Hague. In total, 57 tonnes of spent fuel were sent from Sweden to France for reprocessing. The original agreement, however, was for 729 tonnes.
In 1985, after France had already received the Swedish spent fuel, the Swedish Government tried to get it back (28). The official reason was that the spent fuel would be easier to store without being reprocessed. But, the importance of public opposition to reprocessing, and any trade in nuclear materials with France, cannot be denied. Meanwhile, the West German Government maintained a policy of reprocessing. However, the first generation of spent MOX fuel produced by West German reactors is not possible to reprocess. The Swedish Government had to deal with the massive public protest, and the West German Government had no place to store its first generation spent MOX fuel. Thus, in June 1986, Sweden, France, and West Germany made a trade agreement. In exchange for the 57 tonnes of Swedish spent fuel sent to France, Sweden accepted 24 tonnes of West German spent MOX fuel (to be stored in CLAB). The financial aspects of the trade deal are not known.
The Swedish spent fuel stayed in France to be reprocessed under West German ownership. West Germany has a trade agreement with France where West German spent fuel is sent to La Hague for reprocessing and the plutonium, depleted uranium, and reprocessing wastes are sent to Hanau, West Germany. There, plutonium fuel rods are made. In another trade agreement between France and West Germany, 11% of the plutonium fuel for the French Superphenix breeder reactor is provided by West Germany, which receives in return an equivalent amount of plutonium produced by the Superphenix.
West Germany gained by trading non-reprocessable spent fuel that presented a storage problem, for reprocessable spent fuel. On the Swedish side, the only gain was relieving political pressure against trade in nuclear materials with France. The trade arrangement did not stop the Swedish spent fuel from being reprocessed, nor the resulting plutonium from being used by the French. Further, the plutonium and reprocessing wastes are not less dangerous when owned by West Germany rather than France.
On July 9, 1987 the first of eight shipments of the West German spent MOX fuel was taken by SIGYN from Lübeck, West Germany to Simpevarp, Sweden. The shipment consisted of one container from the Gundremmingen-A reactor. SIGYN was met by demonstrators in both Germany and Sweden. At Simpevarp, about 60 police with boats and helicopters kept close watch over six protesters in two small boats. Two of the protesters jumped into the water in front of SIGYN. All six were arrested.
In Sweden, a coalition called NIX-MOX was specially formed to protest against the shipments. The NIX-MOX coalition is made up of The Peoples' Movement Against Nuclear Power And Weapons ("Folkkampanjen mot kärnkraft och kärnvapen" - FMKK), The Non-violent Network ("Ickevåldsnätet"), and Women for Peace ("Kvinnor för fred") (29). Protests and arrests occurred in both Germany and Sweden almost every time SIGYN went to port.
Police had to violently disperse about 200 demonstrators in Lübeck on January 13, 1988 so that SIGYN could load the seventh shipment. A train delivered the cargo of 23 spent MOX-fuel elements to the port. The train was met when it arrived at six in the morning by a crowd of demonstrators, a number of who sat on the track and were beaten out of the way by police. On January 14th SIGYN unloaded its cargo at Simpevarp.
Finally, in a victory for the anti-nuclear movement, on February 16, 1988 SIGYN was refused permission by the West German regional government of Schleswig-Holstein to load the eighth and last shipment of spent MOX-fuel. This decision was a direct result of massive public protest. Because of the Transnuclear scandal, on February 5, 1988 the majority of the regional government of Schleswig-Holstein voted not to let further shipments of radioactive materials through their region, though an exception in the SIGYN case may have been made. However, crowds of demonstrators waiting for the ship in Lübeck, West Germany made certain no exception was made (30).
Importing the West German MOX fuel is a deviation from the fundamental Swedish principle of not importing any foreign waste. A precedent has been established that may later be used to make Sweden accept nuclear waste from other countries, as part of future "exchange affairs" in other circumstances.
To summarize, the COGEMA agreement is a political scandal and a blow to Swedish neutrality and anti-nuclear weapons policy. The import of the German spent-MOX fuel, which is an attempt to escape the COGEMA agreement, must be strongly condemned.
According to its statutes, the IAEA has two tasks:
The tasks clearly contradict each other. It is not possible to promote the use of nuclear technology and at the same time regulate it.
Sigvard Eklund, a Swede, was Director General of the IAEA from 1961-1981 and the present head, Hans Blix, is also Swedish. Blix started his job in 1981 after working for the Swedish Liberal Party as campaign leader for "line 2" in the Swedish nuclear referendum of 1980 (see Chapter 4). By his lack of knowledge, naiveté and extreme Jesuit morals (the aims justify the means, even in referenda) Hans Blix has embarrassed Sweden and undermined the credibility of the IAEA as a regulatory agency.
Sweden has a special role within the IAEA because the last two Director Generals have come from Sweden. Sweden should use this position to urge that nations withdraw all financial support for the IAEA, and strongly demand that the IAEA be quickly replaced with an agency that has as its main tasks halting the spread of nuclear technology and supervising the decommissioning of this technology.
However, it is important that Sweden continue to participate in serious international scientific projects to find a "solution" to the waste problem. Such projects present the opportunity for voicing an anti-nuclear perspective. For example, Sweden ought to denounce the horrendous custom of industrialized countries procuring storage areas in the third world. Such transactions have been planned between the U.S.A. and Somalia and between West Germany and China.
Economic responsibility for nuclear waste is regulated by the Financing Act of 1982. According to this law, enough money must be available at all times to cover the cost of managing the waste. The nuclear companies calculated in 1986 that every Swede has to pay a one time sum of 6000 crowns (US$925) for "their" part of the waste; making a total of 48 billion crowns (US$7.4 billion). If we assume that, for once, the costs were not underestimated, this means about four billion Swedish crowns (US$620 million) per reactor. In 1976, only ten years earlier, the same nuclear companies argued that the total cost would be only 2.5 billion crowns (US$390 million) per reactor. The real cost is of course still unknown. SKN is supposed to set waste storage fees, collect the money and hold it in trust.
According to estimates of the Energy Council in November 1986, more than 15 billion crowns (US$2.3 billion) were lacking from the waste fund. The nuclear power companies seriously violate the law by deferring the collection of large sums of money to the future. Another way of expressing the problem is that the Government is collecting .04 crowns (US$.006) per kilowatt hour too little to cover the clean-up. The waste tax is now about .02 crowns (US$.003) per kilowatt hour.
The existing waste fund only covers debts already incurred for temporarily storing the nuclear waste. At the time of this writing, 16 years after nuclear power plants began operating in Sweden and six years after the Financing Act was passed, there is no money set aside for either decommissioning the reactors or the final disposal of nuclear waste. Instead, officials assume that the necessary billions will arise from future interest on money which hasn't been paid! Also, the Government figures referred to are based on unlikely estimates. The cost for cleaning up after nuclear power is estimated to be several times higher than the 50 billion crowns (US$7.7 billion) calculated in 1986 (31).
The Financing Act was created to ensure that customers for nuclear electricity pay their share of the cost of waste management. The self-assumed right of the nuclear power companies to maintain bargain sales of electricity is a serious violation of the law and its intention. Also of serious concern is the passivity of the Government and SKN, the surveillance authority. Neither has taken any action at all to rectify the situation. On the contrary, the violation is being committed on the advice of the SKN and with the Government's approval.
For two years (1985 and 1986), environmental organizations claimed in letters to the Government that nuclear power was not covering the cost of taking care of the waste, and strongly requested a change in the method of waste tax calculation. These organizations include the Nuclear Waste Network, The Peoples' Movement Against Nuclear Power and Weapons, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth ("Jordens vänner"), The Environmental Federation ("Miljöförbundet"), and the Swedish Society for the Conservation of Nature ("Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen").
The Government decision (in December 1986) regarding the nuclear waste tax on electric power was another example of the regulatory authority SKN and the Government accepting without criticism the irresponsible calculations made by the nuclear power companies. This means that those in responsible positions, in complete disregard of the aim of the law, year after year, have continued to defer huge costs to the future. It is apparently easier to fight a united environmental movement than to go against the short term interests of nuclear companies wanting to sell electricity at sale prices for another few years.
Just as in the KBS affair, it is evident that the laws act more to protect the nuclear companies than to guide them. This situation is especially serious because it has destroyed the possibility of creating a trustworthy agency which could handle the waste problem properly.
In order to find a suitable site for a high-level waste storage facility, geological investigations have taken place at a number of locations. At the time of this writing, test drilling has been carried out at 11 sites, seven extensively. Another three areas have been threatened. For general locations see the map at the end of the booklet. More than 50,000 meters of core boreholes have been drilled. The maximum depth drilled is 1,000 meters. According to SKB's current schedule, shafts will be excavated at one or two sites in 1993 and an operational site will be chosen in 1998 (32).
The first test drilling was done in 1977 at Finnsjön (close to Forsmark), at Kråkemåla (nearby Oskarshamn) and at Sternö (close to Karlshamn). The work attracted hardly any attention, since the waste issue at the time was rather unknown and thus not very controversial. The situation soon changed. Confrontations took place at Kynnefjäll and Svartboberget in 1980 and 1981, respectively. After these confrontations the companies changed their tactics. Drilling sites in backwood areas were chosen to prevent too many people from showing up, and the companies either made a minimum of information public, or consciously spread misinformation. These tactics worked well for several years, but at each site a new resistance group was formed. The resistance groups used various methods to try to stop drilling and to protest against the ways in which the waste was to be handled. A result of the nuclear power companies' test drilling activities themselves was to raise the general consciousness about waste problems in Sweden and about the whole international nuclear fuel chain.
Most of the protest groups are independent of large environmental organizations, though informal cooperation is common. The Waste Network was formed in May 1981 to facilitate cooperation among the groups. It is not an organization by the usual definition. Cooperation is not formalized with a board of directors, regulations, etc. Each group has its own independent perspective and activities. To knit things together there is a coordinating group in Gothenburg. This group has gathered knowledge and experience about high-level nuclear waste management in Sweden. Accordingly, the group's main task is to serve as a knowledge bank. Following are brief reports of protests at Kynnefjäll, Svartboberget, Klipperås, and Almunge.
Test drilling was attempted at Kynnefjäll in the northern part of Bohuslän in April 1980, immediately after the referendum on nuclear power. Resistance against the nuclear industry there had already begun. Plans in the area for nuclear reactors (at Brodalen) and a reprocessing plant (at Sannäs) were both strongly opposed and eventually stopped.
To organize against the test drilling, the local people formed a group called Save Kynnefjäll ("Rädda Kynnefjäll"). By peaceful demonstrations and establishing a 24 hour watch over the roadways, they prevented drilling from beginning. The action quickly received broad support from the local people.
Support also soon came from the political parties in the three nearby municipalities, Tanum, Munkedal and Dals Ed (33). In these municipalities, the most anti-nuclear position (line 3) in the referendum had gotten respectively 60.6%, 56.6%, and 64.2%, the last being the highest in Sweden. The municipalities threatened to use their veto power (see Chapter 9) against plans for an eventual nuclear waste storage site. Thus the campaign against drilling at Kynnefjäll, which from the start did not follow the traditional political decision-making route, finally gained political support.
The 24 hour watch by Save Kynnefjäll over the roadway leading to the intended drill site started on April 21, 1980. Eventually, a small three meter by five meter cabin was placed at a strategic crossroad and became a permanent "guard hut". The cabin soon was granted a building permit from the municipality, a telephone, and its own postal address (see Appendix 3). At the time of this writing the uninterrupted watch from the cabin is in its ninth year. Thus the action at Kynnefjäll is one of the longest, non-stop anti-nuclear protests in the world.
In economic terms, the human labor invested to protect the area from the nuclear industry can conservatively be estimated at 20 million crowns (US$3.1 million). The Save Kynnefjäll group does not look at their activities as an expense but as an investment in the future. So far the investment has resulted in great returns.
The next site targeted for drilling was the Svartboberget in Ovanåker municipality. Here, the nuclear company established public relations tactics which were used for several years. After giving a minimum of information to the public, the drilling companies tried to creep in without attracting notice. The plans were leaked at a late stage and the locals, organized in the group Save The Voxna Valley ("Rädda Voxnadalen"), made heroic efforts in the midwinter cold of 1981 to stop the drilling. On February 22, 1981 about 30 protestors blocked the road leading to the drilling machine. The water tank needed to operate the machine was prevented from reaching the drilling site. The blockade was maintained until February 24, when the police cleared the road by arresting 25 people. These were the first arrests in Sweden in an anti-nuclear protest, and the first civil disobedience trial since the early 1900's followed.
In the court house in Bollnäs hangs the proud motto "The Land Must Be Developed With Law And Order" (34). In the shadow of this motto, 3 members of Save The Voxna Valley were sentenced March 11, 1981, and later 22 more people were sentenced, in a total of nine legal proceedings. The crime was "arbitrary conduct". First a police officer confronted them on the site and told them that they ought to be grateful to live in a democracy where protests are allowed. Then the district court heavily fined them (35). It is offensive to the common sense of justice to judge people in this way. The defendants tried to prevent environmental destruction of their home area and pleaded self-defense.
The actions by Save The Voxna Valley were triggered by the lack of responsibility of nuclear power companies and authorities on the waste issue. The economic loss due to the brief stop in the drilling has been estimated at a few thousand crowns (several hundred US$). It must be pointed out that in a chemical pollution case, the director in charge of a guilty company, BT Kemi at Teckomatorp, Skåne, was completely acquitted. This was in spite of people in nearby houses clearly having received injuries due to leakage from poison-filled barrels that he had ordered buried. The cost to society for the clean-up at Teckomatorp was millions of crowns (hundreds of thousands of US$).
The sentences of the people in Save The Voxna Valley were out of all proportion. Also, the proceedings amounted to a legal scandal which has hitherto attracted scant notice. When the court appointed the panel of lay assessors at Bollnäs, only people belonging to political parties positive to nuclear power were admitted, while others were deleted from the rotation list then in force. The verdict was carried out by a special court for nuclear cases. This is the first special court known to have been established in Sweden. Such courts, usually found only in dictatorships, are unlawful in Sweden as well as in other "democracies".
The procedure used in appointing lay assessors was reported to the Judiciary Commissioner. This official was content with a telephone call to the court president handling the case, asking whether any political considerations had decided the choice of lay assessors. Naturally, the answer was negative. After this paradoxical investigation, the Commissioner dismissed the report as being unfounded.
This legal scandal should be investigated, and the people found guilty because of it should receive justice. The statement by Birgitta Dahl, now Minister of Energy and Environment, that "the workings of the courts must not be questioned", cannot be accepted. When laws and regulations are bent, such an opinion will have catastrophic effects.
The drilling work by SKB at Klipperås began in 1983. Strong opposition surfaced in the area, and a local group, MASK (Against Atomic Waste in Klipperås) was duly formed. Later, yet another group, FALK (The Association Against Atomic Waste in Klipperås) was formed. When drilling couldn't be stopped, the locals, supported by local politicians, demanded adequate information concerning aims and results. In the fall of 1983, MASK requested that an independent geologist take part in analyzing the drill cores. The answer from SKB was "no" as a geologist not employed by SKB "would merely be in the way".
Nevertheless, in June 1984, 40 meters of drill core weighing several hundred kilos mysteriously disappeared from a locked SKB container at the Klipperås site. There were no signs of violence. An anonymous letter to the local newspapers explained that the core would be examined by an independent geologist and the results published. MASK was not responsible for the action but supported it morally.
The SKB staff were furious. They stated that the missing cores were among the most important and that no Swedish geologist would do an analysis under such circumstances. In October 1984, SKB offered to let the "crime" pass unnoticed if the cores were placed under a pine tree in the Klipperås area. The same day the offer was made, a second anonymous letter was received by the local newspapers and Expressen, one of Sweden's largest evening newspapers. The letter read in part:
"Like everybody else, SKB has to wait until Christmas eve to look under the Christmas tree. It remains to be seen whether or not SKB has behaved itself" (36).
Enclosed with the letter was a 14 cm long piece of drill core, a geological analysis of the whole 40 meter long core, and a photograph of two persons dressed up in Santa Claus suits and carrying a heavy drill core box. The geological analysis read:
"The whole zone is very strongly permeable, regardless of local existence of swelling clay minerals. As a general conclusion it can be said that bedrock with deformations zones of this size is clearly unsuitable for depositing high-level nuclear waste."
SKB, satisfied before disappearance of the core with "the very solid rock" in that particular hole, then agreed to the validity of the Santa Claus analysis, but pointed out that they could not agree with the conclusion.
Up to 1986 SKB had published two summary reports in Swedish on the Klipperås investigations, which did not contain any conclusions or interpretations of the data. A more complete report was said to be coming shortly. This was at long last presented in the fall of 1986. About 500 pages of scientific reports in English were handed over to Nybro municipality. The contents are incomprehensible to ordinary people without specialist knowledge. Even a good command of English and general knowledge about geology doesn't help much. Apparently, this is known to SKB. In a letter enclosed with the 500 pages of information, the nuclear agency referred to the documents stating:
"They are written in English, using scientific terminology ... No easily comprehensible report in Swedish is planned at present."
It wasn't until the MASK action group wrote and complained to the regulatory agency SKN, that a poor summary in Swedish was produced.
But, SKB's fall 1986 report on their research and development program for waste treatment stated:
"SKB will continuously inform the public, the authorities and others about plans, work in progress and results from the activities called for by the research program."
This sounds very good, but it is not put into practice. To date, SKB has not concluded whether or not the Klipperås site is suitable for storing nuclear waste. The only answer the worried local population get from SKB is: "The area can not be disregarded for further studies."
It is clear that the public information history of SKB is gravely compromised. Their conduct at Klipperås did not serve to improve the situation. It is negligent as well as insolent to infringe upon the rights of citizens to information about activities of such importance as test drilling for a nuclear waste storage site.
A confrontation between concerned people and the nuclear industry occurred again in the winter of 1985-86. SKB then attempted new test drilling at Almunge to the east of Uppsala, where "gabbro" rock (thought to be relatively watertight) is found. SKB used the usual tactic: the less information given to the public the better. Harald Åhagen of the SKB was quoted in the local daily newspaper Uppsala Nya Tidning on October 23, 1985, as giving the following explanation as to why the locals at Almunge hadn't been informed:
"That is of no use. We do not have the time to sit in on a series of showy meetings. We consider that the meetings cried for by the public have nothing to do with public information."
However, a series of happy coincidences ensured that the local group Save Uppsala ("Rädda Uppsala") had time to grow strong enough to arrange a 24 hour guard before drilling started. A confrontation took place and the police intervention was covered by a Swedish TV news team. Everybody in Sweden had the chance to see about 70 police, accompanied by dogs, carry away elderly women and other typical "professional demonstrators".
SKB was strongly reprimanded by the Energy and Environment Minister for setting the police on people, and for not distributing serious public information about its activities. A large public information meeting was arranged, but the change in attitude by SKB was only superficial. On opening the meeting, KBS Chief Executive Per-Eric Ahlström claimed that the company had never before encountered any protests against drilling. This thundering lie was immediately followed up by SKB trying to start drilling again in the middle of the night, immediately after the meeting had ended.
The Almunge locals, now thoroughly fed up with SKB, promptly stopped the drilling at dawn. While the drillers were having a coffee break, a couple of protesters sat in the doorway to the drilling machine, blocking its front entrance. The drillers entered through the back door and resumed drilling, but stopped the machine when two people crawled underneath and placed their bodies near the spinning drill pipe. Later the protesters boarded up the entrance to the drill machine and kept at least two people sitting on the front steps 24 hours a day. Since the Minister had prohibited further police actions, the SKB had to stop work. After a couple of months the drill machine was moved out of the area and SKB lost interest in investigating gabbroic rock, saying there was no longer any reason to do so.
The incidents at Almunge also made the waste issue part of the general consciousness. The Waste Network was twice invited to meet with the Energy and Environment Minister. The lengthy discussions with the Minister had no immediate effect, but at least it was a good opportunity to explain the anti-nuclear view to top politicians.
The Final Storage For Reactor Waste (SFR-1) is an under seabed low- and medium-level nuclear waste storage facility located at the Forsmark nuclear reactors 120 km north of Stockholm. The Swedish Parliament approved construction of the facility in June 1983 and a month later excavation of the tunnels began. SFR-1 was approved without any public environmental impact assessment process. The first containers of waste were put in SFR-1 April 27, 1988.
SKB manages and operates the project. It is intended to be the final storage area for all the operational low- and medium-level nuclear waste (90,000 cubic meters) from the 12 nuclear reactors in Sweden. "Operational" waste is ion exchange resins, cloths, tools, etc. In addition, SKB intends to store medical and industrial radioactive waste in SFR-1. SKB plans to build SFR-2 and SFR-3 to hold other wastes such as nuclear reactor core components and parts of the reactor buildings. Applications to construct SFR-2 and SFR-3 have not yet been made.
Following are some facts about SFR-1:
Opposition to SFR-1 by local people began in 1982. However, it wasn't until July 1987 that the Action Group Against SFR-1 was formed (37). Twelve members of the Action Group occupied SFR-1 on July 31, 1987. The group ranged in age from 15 to 62. They went along on a guided bus tour, and when the bus stopped underground for "sightseeing", the protestors refused to get back on the bus (38).
Among the reasons for the protest was the fact that the nuclear industry is distributing false and misleading information about SFR-1. In their statements to the mass media the protestors focused on the false "common agricultural soil" analogy noted above, and on the fact that the radioactivity will eventually leak out into the Baltic Sea.
After about three hours, and having painted radioactive warning symbols on the underground tunnel walls, the protesters were arrested, taken to a local police station and released after questioning. Some months later, the Action Group was found guilty and fined for "painting the inside of a garbage can", as one of those arrested put it (39). SKB quickly removed from circulation the offending brochure containing the agricultural soil analogy and within a couple of months printed a new brochure with a revised analogy.
The Swedish Licensing Board For Environmental Protection approved SFR-1 in mid-September 1987. The decision was appealed in October by 60 local residents on the Island of Gräsö, separated by only ten km of sea water from the Forsmark reactors and SFR-1. It is the Gräsö peoples' position that the Licensing Board has approved a slow, long-term leakage of radioactivity into the Baltic Sea, which is inconsistent with the Baltic Sea Convention and Swedish environmental policy (40). This appeal was not accepted by the Government.
On March 30, 1988, SSI granted the last regulatory approval needed for nuclear waste to be put down in SFR-1. SKI gave its final approval March 24. This triggered a new campaign of civil disobedience by people opposed to SFR. On March 28, a group of 26 protestors were arrested after blocking the road into the SFR site. About half the 50 SFR workers were stopped for about three hours from reaching their work place until the blockade was cleared by the police. A similar action took place with 15 people arrested when the first containers of waste were driven down into SFR-1 on April 27, 1988. Further, three of the 15 returned to be arrested again after managing to pass security guards and lay in front of the waste truck as it moved towards the entrance to the under seabed facility. The Action Group Against SFR intends to maintain its civil disobedience campaign.
Under seabed storage of low- and medium-level waste does not satisfy the moral and legal responsibility of the nuclear industry. SFR-1 is a gigantic experiment that threatens to pollute the Baltic Sea. SFR-1 is in fact a form of delayed sea dumping and is against the Baltic Sea Convention. A storage facility should be controllable so that it is possible to move the waste and definitely stop the spread of radioactivity. The Government must conduct an independent investigation of a storage area on land, where the barriers can be reinforced even after sealing.
Operation of SFR-1 will be a death blow to the local area. The contamination will never go away. Still, a number of nations have shown an interest in adopting the SFR system. Sweden must not export this technique of delayed sea dumping to other countries.
In the late 1960's, as part of an ancient tradition to support and strengthen local decision-making rights against central authorities, a law giving local veto rights to the municipality was established (41). Several times since then proposals to seriously weaken the local veto have been made. The power of municipalities to veto activities that they decide are unacceptable must be maintained.
In the legislation the local veto could only be invalidated by a special law passed by the Parliament. This guarantees a democratic decision making process with public control. The changes suggested would allow the local veto to be canceled by a simple decision of the Government without either preceding debate or public supervision. The change was openly proposed because of the controversy expected over finding a nuclear waste storage site. The changes were even backed by members of the Government, who lied that the change would be necessary in order to enforce awkward but important decisions. In fact, the Parliament is precisely the right body to discuss such an important matter as the nuclear waste problem.
The local veto does not cover all types of environmentally hazardous activities, for example test drilling for a high-level nuclear waste storage facility. However, the Government can rule that any activity falls under the veto law. That is what happened for expansion of uranium mining at Ranstad and plans for uranium mining at Pleutajokk. In 1977, Skövde and Falköping municipalities, both directly affected by the Ranstad uranium mine, said "no" to further operation of the mine. The veto probably saved several billions of crowns (hundreds of millions of US$), at the same time as it prevented unimaginable damage to the environment. This is a good example of responsible use of veto rights.
As this is being written, the status of the veto right is uncertain. In 1987 SKN requested that the Government weaken the local veto (42). Although in the fall of 1986 the Parliament directed the Government to submit a new proposal on the veto law, this has not yet been done. The local veto must be strengthened, and the concept widened to embrace every type of environmentally dangerous activity above a certain size. Annulment of the municipal veto must be allowed only after full debate in the Parliament and the passage of a law. Any other procedure is a serious weakening of democracy.
The Swedish authorities and nuclear industry have addressed the nuclear waste problem with a frightening lack of responsibility. Laws have been violated with the assistance of public and Government authorities. Through agreements, Sweden has become tied up with foreign nuclear weapons interests. Several billions of crowns (hundreds of millions of US$) are missing from the waste fund. Quite unhindered, in order to expand, the nuclear power industry has been allowed to ignore both judicial and scientific laws. In all respects, technically, legally and morally, approval of KBS-1 was disastrous. The KBS-1 method received strong criticism from the impartial expert reviewers. Approval of the "suitable" bedrock was pure fantasy.
Local people, acting on the strength of knowledge and accepting their responsibility in open protests, have been offended by the nuclear power companies through sneak drilling, misinformation and police actions. By tradition, well-founded self-defense rights in cases of immediate danger are built into law. The development of Swedish society has unfortunately rendered the self-defense concept out of date. Many of today's most serious dangers do not threaten single individuals, nor are they triggered instantly. On the contrary, they may very well be unleashed onto future generations. The case of test drilling at Voxna Valley is precisely such a case where rights of civil defense may be invoked.
Acting in a dangerous situation to prevent serious environmental destruction and health injuries must be made acceptable according to written law. The law must be changed because, in a world containing new forms of environmental threats, situations such as at Voxna Valley will continue to arise.
For many people, faith in the credibility of nuclear power companies, elected representatives and Government authorities has ceased to exist. This depressing result after 15 years of maneuvering on the nuclear waste issue can only be reversed by a thorough and unbiased change. Without question, the primary difficulty will be to create a credible body to carry out the necessary investigations and action. In these questions, the environmental and peace organizations represent the public interest only and are unhampered by economic ties. Therefore, they seem to be most suited to suggest persons, experts and organizations suitable to form this body. An important lesson from the KBS affair is that insight and democratic control must be guaranteed. An independent body must be formed to drain the KBS swamp. The model that has been tested to date is the "company model" with boards dominated by politicians in the supervising bodies. This has resulted in shortcomings when pressured by special interests. Thus, the new bodies must be organized in another way.
All people have the right to true and comprehensive information on the nuclear waste problem. Individuals also have the right to draw their own conclusions from the information and then face the responsibility for the growing piles of waste. To date, the nuclear industry, with its huge resources, has almost had a monopoly on information. This bias must be eliminated. Mass movements like the environment and peace movements should be given resources for this task. At the same time it is important to make clear that the environmental movement is not an economic counterpart to the nuclear industry. The environmental movement is independent from economic interests, is working to ensure the survival of life on Earth, and is trying to obtain an optimal treatment of all nuclear waste now in existence.
It is not enough to seek the best possible technical solution if at the same time the public is expected to forget what has already occurred. First, the actions of the various parties must be scrutinized and the KBS project properly evaluated. Only then, can an action plan be evolved in order to examine all different methods of high-level waste storage and to decide upon the best direction possible.
Most basic to being able to take constructive action is to admit immediately that the waste problem is not solved and may never be safely and satisfactorily solved. It is not acceptable to conclude, as the Energy Minister has done, that the nuclear waste problem is currently unsolved and yet still allow the production of more waste. During the legal inquiry into the KBS method, according to the Act On Nuclear Activities, it was claimed that the method was good enough to continue reactor operation, and perhaps in the future "something" better could be found if needed. This unknown "something" then could be the totally acceptable nuclear waste treatment. Thus, the conclusion was made that it is important for the research to continue the way which has been planned. This is irresponsible wishful thinking. Promises about possible solutions in the future cannot be accepted as reasons to allow the waste piles to grow further when there is no solution today.
Further, it must be noted that nuclear weapons are a supreme threat to all life on Earth. No other environmental hazard known has the power of causing such an immediate and total catastrophe. Due to its connection to nuclear weapons via plutonium, spent fuel is the most serious environmental hazard of our time.
The frightening reality is that the world's reactors will be leaving their waste behind in cheap, temporary and wholly insufficient waste storage areas. Inevitably, the radioactive materials in the wastes will leak from many different places in several different ways. Long-lived isotopes will have ample time to spread across the Earth and concentrate in food chains for thousands of years.
Already the living conditions of our descendents are destined to contain radioactivity from the nuclear waste all over the world. If this threatening development is not stopped, the contamination will become much worse. The present conditions in the vicinity of the British reprocessing plant at Sellafield (Windscale) give a small hint of what will happen. There, a nuclear reactor accident in 1957 and operation of the reprocessing plant have resulted in increased cancer among children living nearby, severely increased radioactivity in the Irish Sea and easily measurable quantities of radioactive isotopes in North Sea fish. The nuclear waste problem is thus global and requires a global solution.
Direct sea dumping of radioactive waste was recently stopped. However, the first step towards ending the nuclear threat was taken in the late 1950's when widespread protests about nuclear fallout forced the superpowers U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. to stop atmospheric nuclear tests; though France and China continued into the 1970's and nuclear weapons states continue to carry out underground nuclear weapons tests. Today the struggle is to disarm and to stop nuclear power. The waste piles have to stop growing all over the world - now! Through example and by taking the initiative, Sweden can play an important role by:
Much time, resources, and trustworthiness have been lost by the actions of the Government and nuclear companies. Most of this is unfortunately impossible to regain. But useful lessons have been learned.
Nuclear waste is radioactive for far too long for an epilogue about it to be written now, or in any future that we can envision. We honestly wish we could see a solution, but only our distant descendants, thousands of years hence, will be able to judge the end results, provided that there are still humans on Earth.
So called, "stable" bedrock, is being pointed to as suitable for final storage of high-level nuclear waste. But from such a long-term perspective of hundreds of thousands of years, not even the rock is stable. Bedrock is in perpetual motion. For example, a couple of thousand generations ago, the North American and European continents were some ten kilometers closer to each other than now. In Scandinavia, the icecap had yet to sculpt the present landscape. We know nothing about when the next Ice Age will come, nor do we know what its effects will be.
In 1979, the democratically elected Swedish Government decided that the nuclear waste problem was solved. Sweden thus became the first country claiming to have solved the waste problem. At that time, Evert Arvidsson member of Save Kynnefjäll and former Editor in Chief of Arbetaren (43), wrote,
"Citizens are of course expected to obey democratically made decisions. However, in a truly alive democracy, decision makers must put up with citizens scrutinizing decisions and their underlying basis. It is clear that respect for decisions diminishes at the same rate at which authorities, demanding to be obeyed, make decisions not grounded in fact or passed through manipulation. Protest against decisions not based on fact, such as approval of the KBS method, must therefore be viewed as a sign of health."
1. Helander, Björn; Holmstrand, Olov; Lindström, Marianne; and Åhäll, Karl-Inge. May 1987. "Kärnkraftavfall, Avfallskedjan Redovisar Kritisk Faktabakgrund - Slutsatser" ("Nuclear Waste, The Waste Network Presents Critical Facts And Conclusions") (In Swedish.) 40 pp. Available for ten crowns (US$1.55) plus postage from: Olov Holmstrand, Televisionsgatan 15, S-421 35 Västra Frölunda, Sweden. Tel. 031-47 59 65.
2. Nuclear waste is classified into low-, medium- (or intermediate), and high-level according to its concentration of radioactivity, not by its potential to harm human and other life forms. The much more dangerous high-level waste cannot be treated, stored, or transported in the same way as low- and medium-level waste. Only spent reactor fuel and reprocessing wastes are called "high-level". However, plutonium is plutonium, no matter what type of waste it is present in.
3. SwedPower. Undated (about 1986). "Nuclear Power In Sweden". 170 pp. See p. 117. SwedPower, P.O. Box 34, S-101 20 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel. 08-24 81 00. SwedPower represents Vattenfall, Sydkraft, and OKG.
4. Committee On Energy And Natural Resources, United States Senate. January 1987. "Briefing On The Swedish Program On Nuclear Waste Management". 100th Congress, 1st Session, Committee Print, S.Prt. 100-16. 79 pp. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D, U.S.A. 20402.
6. According to 1984 statistics, Sweden imported 52.5% of its uranium from Canada, 22.3% form Niger and Gabon, 20.5% from Australia, and 4.7% from the U.S.A. The problems of uranium mining in Canada are documented in: Goldstick, Miles. 1987. "Voices From Wollaston Lake, Resistance Against Uranium Mining And Genocide In Northern Saskatchewan". WISE Amsterdam, Box 5627, 1007 AP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel. 020-853 857. ISBN: 90-70702-07-X (softcover). 316 pp.
7. A history of the resistance against test drilling for a high-level nuclear waste storage site up to the "Klipperås incident" of 1983-84 is given in the splendid, Swedish language book by Jan-Åke Noresson, "Kynnet som försätter berg" ("The Mountain-moving Temperament", an untranslatable pun on the name "Kynnefjäll, one of the places singled out for test drilling). Noresson's book is a description of those who haven't given up, and is primarily about the people in The Waste Network.
8. Uranium-238 is also used in modern nuclear bombs. For details on how a nuclear bomb functions see: Morland, Howard. 1981. "The Secret That Exploded". Random House, N.Y., N.Y., U.S.A. 289 pages. Pages 277-279. ISBN: 0-394-51297-9.
10. AKA Commission. 1974. "Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste". Departementsstencil 1974:6 (In Swedish), Department of Industry, S-103 33 Stockholm. All government reports can be ordered from Fritzes Bokhandel, Box 16327, S-103 27 Stockholm. Tel. 08-23 89 00.
11. The source for most of the information on "The Swedish Bomb" is from: Larsson, Christer. April-May 1985. "The History of a Swedish Atomic Bomb" (In Swedish.) In: Ny Teknik (New Technology). No. 17-20 (April 25, May 2, 9, 16, 1985). Ny Teknik, Box 27315, S-102 54 Stockholm. Tel. 08-66 51 700. English language articles that resulted from the Ny Teknik reports include: Nucleonics Week. May 2, 1985. "NRC Seeking More Information About 1972 Swedish Plutonium Tests". Vol. 26, No. 19, pp. 1-2.; Johansson, Thomas. March 1986. "Sweden's Abortive Nuclear Weapons Project". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 31-34.; The Washington Post. April 27, 1985, "Sweden Admits Nuclear Test, Says It Will Not Build Bomb", and May 5, 1985, "Neutralist Image Shaken, Sweden Defends A-Research".
12. Construction of a nuclear power station at Marviken was nearly finished in 1970, but the plant was converted to an oil fueled power station, earning the humorous description of the only oil-fired nuclear power station in the world.
16. The 1976 AKA report did not specify what material the canisters should be made of or at what depth they should be stored. The KBS-1 proposal recommended canisters be made of a lead and titanium shells to hold reprocessed waste. In KBS-2, copper canisters were recommended for direct disposal of non-reprocessed waste.
17. The Swedish Parliament includes the following parties: Conservative, Liberal, Center, Social Democratic, and Communist. The Christian Democrats and the Greens were not represented in the 1987 Parliament. There is a proportional representation electoral system. The Parliament has 349 members who serve three year terms.
27. SKBF and Cogema. Undated - stamped "secret" by the Swedish Ministry of Industry (Svensk Industridept.) Jan. 17, 1977. "Contract Between Cogema and SKBF, Transport, Storage and Reprocessing of Irradiated Fuel Assemblies Discharged in 1979 from Ringhals 3 Power Station". About 100 pp. Available from OOA Library, Ryesgade 19, DK 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark. Tel. 45-1-35 55 07/ 35 48 07.
35. The Court of Appeal first the set fines at 30,000 crowns (US$4,600), or 60 "days wages" then the Supreme Court lowered the fines to 40, which is still considered high. Two people who immediately pleaded guilty were fined 30 "days wages" each.
39. The trial took place on November 24, 1987. Sentences for seven of those arrested were announced the eighth of December. Two of the activists were not charged as they were 15 years old, and three had sentencing delayed until June 1988 as they were out of the county. In Sweden, fines are levied in a number of "day's wages" according to one's income. All seven received 25 "day's wages"; that meant 500 crowns (US$90) for four of the people, and 250 crowns (US$45) for the three others. In addition, 1,500 crowns (US$270) in damage must be paid collectively. This is half the amount requested by SKB to clean the spray painted anti-nuclear symbols off an underground tunnel wall.
The SFR-1 Action Group appealed their charges. Nine activists arrested in November 1986 for occupying the turbine hall at the Ringhals nuclear power station appealed their fines and had them reduced by half (from 30 to 15 "day's wages") on December 7, 1987.
40. The legal decision making process is discussed in detail in: Westerlund, Staffan. 1987. "White Papers On The Decision To Allow The Repository For Low- And Medium Active Waste Under The Seabed At Forsmark, Sweden". 106 pp. Available from: Staffan Westerlund, Stora Åmyra, S-740 50 Björklinge. Tel. 018-37 60 47.
1954: Start-up of the first research reactor.
1950's and 1960's: Bid was made for a first technical strategy involving domestic uranium mining, heavy water reactors and reprocessing.
1957: Parliament made a policy against production of nuclear weapons.
January 1970: Tanum municipality threatened to use their local veto to stop construction of a reprocessing plant in their area.
1972: Start-up of Oskarshamn 1, the first commercial nuclear reactor.
February 1972: Outside of Stockholm, the Swedish military carried out a series of ten underground conventional explosions each using from five to ten grams of plutonium and tens of grams of conventional explosives.
1974: No fewer than 24 nuclear reactors were scheduled at Brodalen, Ringhals, Barsebäck, Oskarshamn, Södermanland, and Forsmark.
1976: Social Democrats lost the federal election, after holding Government for over 40 years.
1976: Establishment of the Government nuclear agency SKI.
1977: First test drilling to find a suitable storage site for high-level nuclear waste.
April 1977: Stipulation Act passed.
November 1977: Skövde and Falköping municipalities, both directly effected by the Ranstad uranium mine, used their local veto to stop further operation of the mine.
December 1977: KBS-1 report published.
September 29, 1978: The Government decision to approve KBS-1 was officially "no", but in practice "yes".
Spring of 1979: Controversy created after the Three Mile Island accident on March 28, 1979 at Harrisburg, U.S.A.
June 1979: KBS-1 method approved by the Government; the Government decided the nuclear waste problem was "solved in a completely safe manner".
March 23, 1980: Referendum on nuclear power, with the result that the Government decided to phase out all nuclear power by the year 2010.
April 21, 1980: "Save Kynnefjäll" (Rädda Kynnefjäll) posted a 24 hour watch over the roadway leading to an intended test drilling site for a high-level nuclear waste storage facility. The non-stop 24 hour guard continues at the time of this writing.
1981: PRAV was disbanded after protest by environmentalists.
February 24, 1981: After two days of blocking a road and thus stopping test drilling for a high-level nuclear waste storage site, 25 members of Save The Voxna Valley ("Rädda Voxnadalen") were arrested. These were the first arrests in Sweden in an anti-nuclear protest.
May 1981: The Waste Network was formed at a meeting in Edsbyn, Voxna Valley.
1982: The Financing Act established that the nuclear power companies must pay into a fund enough money to cover the total cost of waste management.
1982: The pro-nuclear Social Democrats were re-elected to power.
1982: Spent fuel from Swedish nuclear reactors was sent to the reprocessing plant in La Hague, France.
1983: Test drilling for a high-level nuclear waste storage site at Klipperås began.
June 1983: Parliament approved SFR-1.
Spring of 1984: KBS 3 approved by the Government and the latest two reactors received fueling permission.
1985: Attempt made by the Government to weaken the municipal veto right.
April 1985: The official reason given for the first Swedish nuclear strategy, energy self-sufficiency, was revealed to be a nuclear weapons program in civilian disguise.
October 1985: SKB attempted test drilling for a high-level nuclear waste storage site at Almunge to the east of Uppsala. After a couple of months the drilling machine was moved out of the area due to local civil disobedience which stopped the drilling machine from working.
December 1985: The Environment Minister announced an end to Sweden's uranium exploration program. Thus, all plans for uranium mining in Sweden were stopped, and purchases from abroad must continue.
1986: Nuclear companies calculated that every Swede has to pay a one time sum of 6,000 crowns (US$925) for "their" part of the waste; making a total of 48 billion crowns (US$7.4 billion).
June 1986: Trade deal made between Sweden, France and West Germany whereby 24 tonnes of West German spent MOX-fuel is meant to replace 57 tonnes of Swedish spent fuel Sweden sent to France for reprocessing.
November 1986: The Energy Council estimated that more than 15 billion crowns (US$2.3 billion) were missing from the waste fund.
July 9, 1987: The first of eight shipments of West German spent MOX-fuel was made by the Swedish vessel SIGYN from Lübeck, West Germany to Simpevarp, Sweden.
July 31, 1987: After taking part in a guided tour, 12 people opposed to SFR-1 occupied an under seabed tunnel and were arrested.
February 16, 1988: In a victory for the anti-nuclear movement, SIGYN was refused permission by the West German regional government of Schleswig-Holstein (with jurisdiction over the Lübeck harbor) to load the eighth and last shipment of spent MOX-fuel destined for CLAB.
April 27, 1988: The first containers of low- and medium-level nuclear waste were put down in SFR-1.
Note: This list is not up-to-date.
S-721 04 VÄSTERÅS. Tel. 021-10 70 00.
A private company located in Västerås, Sweden that builds nuclear reactors and operates a fuel fabrication plant. It is a Swedish branch of the multi-national Asea Brown Bouveri formed in late 1987.
Energi och Miljödepartmentet
(Ministry of Energy and Environment),
S-103 33 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-763 10 00.
FKA - Forsmarks Kraftgrupp AB
(Forsmark's Energy Group),
S-111 47 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-14 41 70.
The corporation that owns and operates the Forsmark nuclear energy facility.
IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency,
Wagramerstrasse 5, Box 100,
A-1400 WIEN, Austria. Tel. 2360-2380.
The nuclear energy agency of the United Nations.
KASAM - Samrådsnämnden för Kärnavfallsfrågor
(Coordinating Council For Nuclear Waste Questions),
Box 60 204,
S-104 01 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-729 71 00.
A Government agency for coordination between SSI, SKI and SKN.
KBS - Projekt Kärnbränslesäkerhet
(Nuclear Fuel Safety Project).
An SKB project that manages high-level nuclear waste questions for the owners of the nuclear power plants (see SKB for address).
OKG - Oskarshamns Kraftgrupp AB
(Oskarshamn's Energy Group),
S-111 87 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-790 04 00.
The corporation that owns and operates the Oskarshamn nuclear energy facility.
PRAV - Programrådet för radioaktivt avfall
(Program Council For Radioactive Waste).
A Government agency which was responsible for part of the research into nuclear waste from 1975 to 1981.
SGAB - Sveriges Geologiska AB
(Swedish Geological Company),
S-95 128 LULEÅ. Tel. 0920-976 00.
A group within the old SGU which was reorganized into a state-controlled corporation. SGAB has completed test drilling and other site investigations for KBS.
SGU - Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning
(Swedish Geological Survey),
S-751 28 UPPSALA. Tel. 018-17 90 00.
A Government agency responsible for mapping Swedish geology.
SKB - Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB
(Swedish Nuclear Fuel And Waste Management Company),
S-102 48 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-65 28 00.
A corporation owned by the four nuclear utility companies, and responsible for all handling, transportation, and storage of the spent fuel and other radioactive waste from the nuclear plants, and all the planning and construction of facilities required for the necessary research.
SKI - Statens Kärnkraftinspektion
(Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate),
Box 27 106,
S-102 52 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-63 55 60.
The Government agency responsible for supervision of nuclear energy facilities.
SKN - Statens Kärnbränslenämnd
(The National Board For Spent Nuclear Fuel)
(Formerly known at NAK - Nämnden för Använt Kärnbränsle,
The Committee For Spent Nuclear Fuel),
Sehlstedtsgatan 5-9, 3 tr.,
S-115 28 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-67 98 20.
The Government agency responsible for supervision of the handling of nuclear waste.
SSI - Statens Strålskyddsinstitut,
(National Institute Of Radiation Protection),
Box 60 204,
S-104 01 STOCKHOLM. Tel. 08-24 40 80.
The Government agency responsible for research on and monitoring of all sources of radiation.
S-162 87 VÄLLINGBY. Tel. 08-739 50 00.
A Government agency for energy production. It is totally responsible for the ownership and operation of the Ringhalls nuclear facility and has partial ownership in the Forsmark nuclear facility.
Studsvik Energiteknik AB
(Studsvik Energy Technology Company)
(Formerly known as AB Atomenergi),
S-611 82 NYKÖPING. Tel. 0155-210 00.
A Government owned corporation focusing on energy research.
Carl Gustafs Väg 1,
S-217 01 MALMÖ. Tel. 040-25 50 00.
In general, a municipally owned corporation that owns and operates the Barsebäck nuclear facility (through Sydsvenska Värmekraft AB, a subsidiary of Sydkraft AB).
TGB - Tung Geoteknisk Borrning AB
(Heavy Geotechnical Drilling Company),
S-440 06 GRÅBO. Tel. 0302-410 00.
A privately owned corporation that had drilling contracts in several areas for KBS.
Note: This list is not up-to-date.
(Groups marked with a "*" are members of The Waste Network)
* Aktionsgruppen MASK
- Mot AtomSopor i Klipperås
(Action Group Against Nuclear Waste in Klipperås),
S-360 65 BODA GLASBRUK.
Tel. 0477-503 60. (Peter Frederiksen)
* Avfallskedjans Göteborgsgrupp
(The Waste Network's
c/o Karl-Inge Åhäll,
S-431 34 MÖLNDAL.
Tel. 031-87 25 18.
* FALK - Föreningen Mot Atomavfallslagring i Klipperås
(Organization Against Nuclear Waste Storage in Klipperås),
c/o Lars-Axel Karlsson,
S-380 40 ORREFORS.
Tel. 0481-320 35.
* FAST - Föreningen mot AtomSopor på Torhamnslandet
(Organization Against Nuclear Waste in Torhamnslandet),
c/o Sven-Olof Petersson,
S-370 42 TORHAMN.
Tel. 0455-512 37.
Folkkampanjen mot kärnkraft
(The Peoples' Movement Against
Nuclear Power and Weapons)
(FMKK CLAB group),
c/o Christina Berg-Tylöskog,
S-393 53 KALMAR.
Tel. 0480-873 88.
* FMKK, Oskarshamn,
c/o Katarina Linell,
S-570 93 FIGEHOLM.
Tel. 0491-313 23.
* FMKK, SFR-grupp,
(FMKK SFR group)/ SFR Action Group,
c/o Mats Törnqvist,
Pl. 3601 Söderboda,
S-740 71 ÖREGRUND.
Tel. 0173-350 02.
c/o Ingegerd Björklund,
S-724 60 VÄSTERÅS.
Tel. 021-18 36 62.
S-402 34 GOTHENBURG.
Tel. 031-17 65 00.
(The Non-violent Network),
S-116 29 STOCKHOLM.
Tel. 08-714 93 06.
(Friends of the Earth),
Fjällgatan 23 A,
S-116 45 STOCKHOLM.
Tel. 08-34 41 22.
Kvinnor för Fred
(Women for Peace),
S-111 30 STOCKHOLM.
Tel. 08-723 10 65.
(The Environmental Federation),
S-402 31 GOTHENBURG.
Tel. 031-19 04 19.
S-570 91 KRISTDALA.
Tel. 0491-601 67.
* Rädda Fjällveden
c/o Susanne Gustafsson,
S-640 33 BETTNA.
Tel. 0155-924 47.
* Rädda Höga Kusten
(Save Höga Kusten),
c/o Rolf Grundström,
S-890 35 HUSUM.
Tel. 0663-117 10.
* Rädda Kamlunge
c/o Lena Lagerstam,
S-950 42 MORJÄRV.
Tel. 0923-503 42.
* Rädda Kynnefjäll Vaktstugan
(Save Kynnefjäll Guard Hut),
Lunden, Pl. 1411,
S-450 52 DINGLE.
Tel. 0524-510 80.
* Rädda Kynnefjäll
c/o Ivar Palm,
S-450 71 FJÄLLBACKA.
Tel. 0525-300 59.
* Rädda Skellefte Älvdal
(Save Skellefte River Valley),
c/o Lambert Klingstedt,
S-935 00 NORSJÖ.
Tel. 0918-260 26.
* Rädda Tränningen
c/o Marianne Samuelsson,
S-441 94 ALINGSÅS.
Tel. 0322-911 53.
* Rädda Tölö Kronopark
(Save Tölö Kronopark),
c/o Erik Michaelsson,
S-430 33 FJÄRÅS.
Tel. 0300-453 35.
* Rädda Uppsala
c/o Ella Fallgren,
S-740 10 ALMUNGE.
Tel. 0174-200 81
Tel. 0174-231 37).
* Rädda Voxnadalen
(Save The Voxna Valley),
c/o Birgitta Ohlsson,
S-822 00 ALFTA.
Tel. 0271-170 27.
(The Swedish Society for the
Conservation of Nature),
S-113 82 STOCKHOLM.
Tel. 08-15 15 50.
AKA Commission - Commission on Radioactive Waste.
Bq - becquerel; one radioactive disintegration per second.
breeder reactor - a nuclear reactor in which non-fissile material such as uranium-238 is converted to fissile material by exposure to neutron radiation. In this way, fuel is "bred". A "fast breeder reactor" is fueled by plutonium in a reaction using "fast" neutrons, i.e. not moderated by water or graphite as in other reactors.
CLAB - The Central Storage Facility For Spent Nuclear Fuel.
curie - one curie is the number of transformations or disintegrations of one gram of radium. One curie equals 3.7 X 10 to the 10th disintegrations per second.
fissile material - a material made up of heavy atoms that can be split into pieces emitting energy.
FMKK - The Peoples' Movement Against Nuclear Power And Weapons.
isotope - an atom of a given element that has slightly different physical and chemical properties from other atoms of the same element.
KBS - Nuclear Fuel Safety Project (Projekt Kärnbränslesäkerhet).
light water reactor (LWR) - reactors cooled with natural water and fueled with low-enriched uranium (about 3% uranium-235).
NAK - The Committee For Spent Nuclear Fuel.
PRAV - Program Council For Radioactive Waste.
plutonium - a human-made radioactive element heavier than uranium. Plutonium-239 is the plutonium isotope commonly used in nuclear weapons; it emits highly dangerous alpha radiation and has a halflife of 24,000 years.
reprocessing - extraction of uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, which can be used for new fuel or nuclear bombs.
SFR-1 - Final Storage For Reactor Waste.
SKBF - Swedish Nuclear Fuel Supplies Ltd.
SKB - Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company.
SKI - Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate.
SKN - The National Board For Spent Nuclear Fuel.
SSI - National Institute Of Radiation Protection.
spent fuel - nuclear reactor fuel once it has been exposed to a nuclear reaction; also called irradiated fuel.
tonnes - 1,000 kilograms or 2,200 pounds. An imperial or American ton is 2,000 pounds or 909.1 kilograms.
WISE NC - World Information Service On Energy News Communiqué.