IAEA sees Swedish commitment to nuclear safety

30 November 2022

Sweden has a comprehensive regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety and the protection of people and the environment, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has concluded. The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission team identified areas for possible improvements.

Sweden has six nuclear reactors in operation in three plants, including two at the Ringhals plant (Image: Vattenfall)

The IRRS team conducted the mission to Sweden from 14 to 25 November. The mission, carried out at the request of the Swedish government and hosted by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), was part of the second Swedish IRRS cycle. The first IRRS mission in Sweden took place in 2012 with a follow-up review in 2016.

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, based on IAEA safety standards and international good practices, while recognising the responsibility of each country to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.

The team - comprising 18 senior regulatory experts from 16 Member States as well as three IAEA staff members - reviewed the regulatory oversight of facilities and activities and exposure situations. The team also accompanied SSM staff during their inspections and oversight activities at the operating Forsmark nuclear power plant, the Ågesta plant under decommissioning, the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory, the Gems pet cyclotron facility, the Cyclife laboratory and a hospital in Västerås. It also held meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Environment and with the management of Vattenfall, the licence holder for nuclear power plants.

The IRRS team identified good practices and performances conducted by SSM including: exposure data and typical doses for various medical procedures available to any interested party, including the public; proactive communication to enhance public awareness on safety matters; digitisation of the process for registration of radioactive sources; and annual integrated safety assessments to identify safety issues and trends.

The team made several recommendations and suggestions to further reinforce continuous improvement of the Swedish regulatory system and the effectiveness of the regulatory functions in line with IAEA safety standards. These included: establishment of a national strategy addressing competence needs, taking into account the possible expansion of nuclear power; improved coordination between SSM and other national authorities with responsibilities for safety; and further development of expert services in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency.

"Sweden has a comprehensive regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety covering the full range of facilities, activities, and exposure situations," said the IRRS team leader Scott Morris, Regional Administrator for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "SSM is a competent, independent regulator whose staff are committed to deliver SSM's statutory obligations effectively."

SSM Director General Nina Cromnier said: "Sweden is committed to ensuring the highest standards in its regulation of nuclear safety. The feedback from the IRRS experts provides valuable contributions to SSM's ongoing work towards fulfilling our strategy goals consistent with this objective."

The final IRRS mission report will be provided to SSM in about three months. Sweden plans to make the report public.

The mission will be followed by an IAEA Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (Artemis) mission - scheduled for April 2023 - which will assess radioactive waste and used fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes in the country.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News