Half a kilometre beneath the Swedish town of Oskarshamn is the Aespoe Hard Rock Laboratory, an underground maze of tunnels running four kilometres through granite rock. If researchers get their way, this test site will provide the know-how for Sweden to create the world’s first permanent nuclear waste dump.
The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB), a private company owned by nuclear power plant operators, wants to build an underground vault capable of safely storing toxic waste for hundreds of thousands of years. The Local reports that the group is set to select a site this month that will become a final resting place for the used nuclear fuel from Sweden’s ten reactors.
Jimmy Larsson-Hagberg, the spokesman for SKB, confirmed to the AFP, “If all goes as planned, construction could begin in 2016 and the first canister could be deposited in the repository in 2022 or 2024.”
Although nuclear power production has been in use for decades and presently generates 14 percent of the world’s electricity, there is still no permanent storage facility for its spent fuel. This is a vexing problem, which could soon be solved by the Swedish consortium.
Sweden produces 45 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors. The government was preparing to permanently phase out all ten of its reactors, but changed its mind in February and will now replace the nuclear power stations with new ones when they reach the end of their life span.