The move is the first time that a licence to export radioactive waste has been issued in Sweden for twenty years, Aftonbladet reports. The 4.8 tonnes of waste is to be taken to the Sellafield plant in northern England in August.
The waste comes from Sweden’s first research reactor, R1, at the Royal Institute of Technology. The reactor was used from 1954 to 1970, as part of a programme to create a Swedish nuclear bomb.
Greenpeace is protesting at the move, saying that the Sellafield reprocessing plant pollutes the sea with radioactive substances.
“This facility in Sellafield releases radioactive substances into both the sea and the air. We get the remaining products back through the sea,” said Martina Krüger of Greenpeace to Aftonbladet.
The environmental group said that the government had also bypassed proper decision-making processes for approving waste exports.
The waste is set to be transported by Svafo, a part of the Studsvik industrial group. Andreas Carlgren, Sweden’s environment minister, said that the government had no choice but to export the waste, as Sweden has no facilities for processing it at home.
“The reason for this approach is environmental, but this is also about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Carlgren told the paper. The Environment Department said the impending closure of the Sellafield reprocessing plant meant that there was a need to expedite the export of the waste.