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6. Bad Economics

Economic responsibility for nuclear waste is regulated by the Financing Act of 1982. According to this law, enough money must be available at all times to cover the cost of managing the waste. The nuclear companies calculated in 1986 that every Swede has to pay a one time sum of 6000 crowns (US$925) for "their" part of the waste; making a total of 48 billion crowns (US$7.4 billion). If we assume that, for once, the costs were not underestimated, this means about four billion Swedish crowns (US$620 million) per reactor. In 1976, only ten years earlier, the same nuclear companies argued that the total cost would be only 2.5 billion crowns (US$390 million) per reactor. The real cost is of course still unknown. SKN is supposed to set waste storage fees, collect the money and hold it in trust.

According to estimates of the Energy Council in November 1986, more than 15 billion crowns (US$2.3 billion) were lacking from the waste fund. The nuclear power companies seriously violate the law by deferring the collection of large sums of money to the future. Another way of expressing the problem is that the Government is collecting .04 crowns (US$.006) per kilowatt hour too little to cover the clean-up. The waste tax is now about .02 crowns (US$.003) per kilowatt hour.

The existing waste fund only covers debts already incurred for temporarily storing the nuclear waste. At the time of this writing, 16 years after nuclear power plants began operating in Sweden and six years after the Financing Act was passed, there is no money set aside for either decommissioning the reactors or the final disposal of nuclear waste. Instead, officials assume that the necessary billions will arise from future interest on money which hasn't been paid! Also, the Government figures referred to are based on unlikely estimates. The cost for cleaning up after nuclear power is estimated to be several times higher than the 50 billion crowns (US$7.7 billion) calculated in 1986 (31).

The Financing Act

The Financing Act was created to ensure that customers for nuclear electricity pay their share of the cost of waste management. The self-assumed right of the nuclear power companies to maintain bargain sales of electricity is a serious violation of the law and its intention. Also of serious concern is the passivity of the Government and SKN, the surveillance authority. Neither has taken any action at all to rectify the situation. On the contrary, the violation is being committed on the advice of the SKN and with the Government's approval.

For two years (1985 and 1986), environmental organizations claimed in letters to the Government that nuclear power was not covering the cost of taking care of the waste, and strongly requested a change in the method of waste tax calculation. These organizations include the Nuclear Waste Network, The Peoples' Movement Against Nuclear Power and Weapons, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth ("Jordens vänner"), The Environmental Federation ("Miljöförbundet"), and the Swedish Society for the Conservation of Nature ("Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen").

The Government decision (in December 1986) regarding the nuclear waste tax on electric power was another example of the regulatory authority SKN and the Government accepting without criticism the irresponsible calculations made by the nuclear power companies. This means that those in responsible positions, in complete disregard of the aim of the law, year after year, have continued to defer huge costs to the future. It is apparently easier to fight a united environmental movement than to go against the short term interests of nuclear companies wanting to sell electricity at sale prices for another few years.

Just as in the KBS affair, it is evident that the laws act more to protect the nuclear companies than to guide them. This situation is especially serious because it has destroyed the possibility of creating a trustworthy agency which could handle the waste problem properly.

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