Swedish parliament rejects Ringhals restart - by one vote

23 January 2020

The Swedish Parliament - the Riksdag - yesterday narrowly rejected a proposal from the nationalist Sweden Democrats party to reverse the planned closure of the two oldest reactors at the Ringhals nuclear power plant. Unit 2 of the plant was shut down at the end of last year, with unit 1 set to close later this year.

The four-unit Ringhals plant (Image: Vattenfall)

Vattenfall announced in October 2015 that Ringhals 2 (an 807 MWe pressurised water reactor that entered commercial operation in 1975) would be decommissioned in 2019, with Ringhals 1 (an 878 MWe boiling water reactor that started up in 1976) following in 2020. The company said the decision to close the reactors five years earlier than originally planned was taken for commercial reasons. Two newer and larger PWR units at the Ringhals site, Ringhals 3 and 4, are expected to remain in operation until 2041 and 2043 under current plans.

The Sweden Democrats had put forward a motion that the government instruct state-owned operator Vattenfall to restart Ringhals 2 and not proceed with the shutdown of unit 1. The motion was supported by the conservative Moderate Party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats.

In a written question to the prime minister, David Josefsson of the Moderate Party asked what measures the government would take in order for Sweden to meet its carbon dioxide emission targets following the shutdown of the two reactors. "The cancellation mechanism within the [EU] emissions trading system was not available in 2015, when the decision to close the Ringhals reactors was made, which is why the debaters believe that the closure should be reconsidered and decisions made in a broader perspective than just the purely commercial ones," he said.

The proposal was yesterday rejected by just a single vote, with 174 against it, 173 in support and 2 absentees.

In a 17 January statement, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority noted that it had officially been notified of the closure of Ringhals 2 on 30 December. "This notification signifies that unit 2 of the Ringhals nuclear power plant has been permanently shut down, which under the provisions contained in the Act on Nuclear Activities means that the reactor is not permitted to be recommissioned," said the regulator's chief legal officer Ulf Yngvesson.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News