An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission said Sweden has a comprehensive regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety and the protection of people and the environment. The team also identified areas for possible improvements, such as ensuring that the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), the national regulatory authority for nuclear and radiation safety, has sufficient qualified staff to fulfil all statutory and regulatory functions.
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team concluded today a 12-day mission to Sweden from 14 to 25 November. The mission, conducted at the request of the Government of Sweden and hosted by 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.
Using IAEA safety standards and international good practices, IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety, while recognizing the responsibility of each country.
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 (NPP), the Ågesta NPP under decommissioning, the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory, the Gems pet cyclotron facility, the Cyclife laboratory and a hospital in Västerås.
Sweden has six nuclear reactors in operation in three plants, with a total installed capacity of 6885 MW(e), contributing 30.8% of total electricity generation in Sweden.
“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 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). “SSM is a competent, independent regulator whose staff are committed to deliver SSM’s statutory obligations effectively.”
The team also held meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Environment and with the management of Vattenfall, the licence holder for NPPs.
“Sweden is committed to ensuring the highest standards in its regulation of nuclear safety,” said Nina Cromnier, Director General of SSM. “The feedback from the IRRS experts provides valuable contributions to SSM’s ongoing work towards fulfilling our strategy goals consistent with this objective.”
During her remarks at the closing meeting of the mission, Lydie Evrard, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security said: “Once again, this mission has shown that the commitment of senior regulatory experts from all around the world, mobilizing decades of diverse experience, makes IRRS a high added-value process for strengthening national regulatory infrastructures for safety.”
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.
- Annual integrated safety assessments to identify safety issues and trends.
The IRRS 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.
Recommendations and suggestions for Sweden include:
- 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.
- Further development of expert services in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency.
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 spent fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes in the country.
The final mission report will be provided to SSM in about three months. Sweden plans to make the report public.
General information about IRRS missions can be found on the IAEA website. IRRS are used to advise Member States on ways to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of national regulatory frameworks for nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety while recognizing the ultimate responsibility of each State to ensure safety in these areas.
The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements, and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.