(Bloomberg) -- Sweden is set to build a repository for the permanent disposal of used nuclear fuel, the second facility of its kind in the world to win planning approval.
The proposition for a deep geological site about 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Stockholm has been approved by the government, Environment Minister Annika Strandhall said at a press conference Thursday. If it secures the required environmental permits, the facility is expected to be completed in about 10 years.
The approval follows more than a decade of political and legal wrangling over how to handle the radioactive waste generated from at least 50 years of nuclear generation, the source of about a third of the largest Nordic nation’s electricity. The new site will provide some certainty to the nuclear industry, which warned last year the lack of storage space will force most of Sweden’s reactors to halt by 2025.
Designed to isolate waste for 100,000 years, the facility near the Forsmark nuclear power plant on the country’s eastern coast will put spent fuel in copper canisters and bury them 500 meters (1,640 feet) underground in bentonite, an absorbent clay with sealant properties.
Finland approved the same method in 2015 and plans to have its site in Olkiluoto ready for storage from the middle of this decade.
The Forsmark site approval comes amid pressure from Swedish opposition parties to make it easier to build more reactors in Sweden following record high power prices this winter. Operators are currently only allowed to build a new unit to directly replace an old one.
Building more reactors could prove to be a hot topic in the coming general election in September, as Strandhall’s Social Democrats are likely to need the backing from two parties with anti-nuclear policies to stay in power.
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