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Reference Group for Copper Corrosion

Corrosion of the copper canisters that are one of the engineered barriers in the Swedish KBS-3 disposal system is an issue which has been debated lately. Especially during 2009 the possible corrosion of copper in pure water, free from oxygen as well as from complexing ions, was the subject of much attention. The Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste held a special international scientific seminar about the issue. One of the conclusions was that the Swedish Nuclear Waste Management company (SKB) should repeat experiments done at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm in the 1980s that indicated that corrosion in oxygen free water may be possible. 

In March 2010, a new project was launched by SKB which included two experiments. One experiment, done at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, is about copper wires which have been in a test tube for more than 20 years. The other experiment is set up at the Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, to measure the hydrogen gas that may be produced during corrosion of thin copper foils.  A new feature of the project is a reference group with participants from the "critical group" at KTH, Swedish Environmental organizations, the Municipality of Östhammar (where is final repository for spent nuclear fuel in planned for by SKB) and the Municipality of Oskarshamn (where an encapsulation facility is planned for), and the Regional Councils of Uppsala and Kalmar (the regions where Östhammar and Oskarshamn respectively are situated).  The idea with the reference group is to give the stakeholders and the public full insight into the experiments all the way from the planning phase to reporting.  The meetings with the reference group gives the participants not only insight but also a possibility to suggest modifications of the planned experiments. Experience so far shows that this has improved the experimental design.

The working format of the reference group with opportunities to suggest improvements without having the formal responsibility for the experiments and the use of results, which is the task  of  SKB having  the responsibility to construct a safe repository,  has similarities to the "safe space" approach used by Karita elsewhere, e.g. in the new European Union IPPA Project.

Recently is has been decided that the domain of the reference group will be expanded to include selected experiments at the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory,  namely the current retrieval of parts of the "Prototype  Repository"  and the "Minican" experiment.

Kjell Andersson, Karita Research, is chairing the reference group and leads activities related to the experiments the group is handling on contract from SKB (reference Peter Wikberg: