Nuclear power safety

Vattenfall aims to maintain a leading position in nuclear safety. It is our responsibility to protect the general public, the people working at our nuclear power plants, and the environment.

We continue to invest in already advanced technology and safety features.

Nuclear power plants are designed to prevent radiation from reaching the surrounding environment. Similarly, the purpose of all safety work is to protect workers, the public and the environment.

Safety systems

Our safety systems provide several layers of protection against a wide variety of incidents, including equipment failure, human errors and events outside plants. These systems prevent and contain incidents, and minimise their consequences.

The general principles for safety systems are:

  • Redundancy: Multiple parallel units of a safety system.
  • Diversification: Parallel safety systems based on different techniques and different physical modes of action.
  • Physical separation: Parallel safety systems located in separate parts of the building, to minimise the risk of a fault spreading from one location to another.

Nuclear waste management

Waste generated during the operation of a nuclear power plant is classified as radioactive if it was contaminated or activated in the process. Radioactive waste in Sweden is classified in four levels and depending on the radionuclide content in the waste it is also classified as long-lived or short-lived waste.

The Swedish system of waste management was developed by SKB, a company owned by the Swedish nuclear operators. The system consists of several final disposal facilities depending on the activity and lifetime of the waste. Spent nuclear fuel is not reprocessed in Sweden and remains hazardous for thousands of years. Therefore, the spent fuel must be isolated from the living environment. It is also our responsibility to have reliable solutions for managing all nuclear waste.

The Swedish national authorities supervise the process for the final storage of spent nuclear fuel. The safety work at Vattenfall’s plants in Sweden is supervised by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and in Germany by the Social Ministry of Schleswig-Holstein.

We carry out research and development with the rest of the industry in the jointly owned Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB).

Spent nuclear fuel

There are two types of storage for nuclear spent fuel: interim storage and final repository. The final repository proposed in Sweden is in deep geological formations in the area least affected by the tectonic processes. Several safety barriers are applied including encapsulation.

In order for a location to be approved, proper permits must be granted and it must be proven that the storage fulfils the requirements set by the Swedish Act on Nuclear Activities and the Swedish Environmental Code. Many years of investigations, tests, scientific research and development are given to prepare and justify the proposed solution. 

Read more about how we store nuclear waste

Last updated: 2016-06-28 13:54