finland The Finnish equivalent to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority approved a planned final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Olkiluoto on Thursday (12 February). It is the view of the Authority that the facility can be built in a safe way. The storage method has been developed in close collaboration with Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB, Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company).


osiva is the Finnish equivalent of SKB. During 2012, Posiva applied for a permit to build an encapsulation and final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Olkiluoto in the municipality of Euraåminne. In accordance with the application sent to the Ministry of Labour and Enterprise, a maximum of 9,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from the Lovisa and Olkiluoto nuclear power plants will be stored in a final repository some 430 metres down in the bedrock.

Posiva's permanent storage project is based on the same method the Swedish SKB would like to use. The technology involves the encasing of spent nuclear fuel in copper and iron canisters after it has been in interim storage for at least 20 years to then be stored in the final repository. The canisters are protected with a buffer layer consisting of expanding clay and permanent storage tunnels filled with clay material.

May be granted
The Finnish equivalent to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) has approved Posiva's application. 
STUK writes for instance that the ”Encapsulation and final repository facility in Olkiluoto presented by Posiva is planned in compliance with the plants' nuclear and radiation safety requirements.”

Jussi Heinonen, STUK’s section head says:
"Up until now, we have been assured that the security of supply and long-term safety in the nuclear waste facility are adequate enough to grant planning permission. It deals with a new type of facility, and for this reason, it is justified to move forward slowly while at the same time assessing and defining the planning of the facility based on the information compiled. For instance, the details relating to local characteristics of the bedrock will be clarified when work on the site begins."

Welcome response
Over many decades Posiva has developed a method for the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel with SKB from Sweden.

Christopher Eckerberg, CEO at SKB, comments:
"SKB is happy for Posiva today as this positive approval from the Finnish Radiation Safety Authority means that they have reached an important milestone in their nuclear waste programme."

Special significance
If the permit is granted by the Finnish Government, STUK will monitor the construction of the nuclear waste facility and can demand modifications to current plans if required. 
"In this way, we attach major importance not only to the encapsulation and permanent storage facility but also to the final repository system to ensure it is installed according to plan. As this is the first time a facility of this kind has been built, it is important to assess how the construction methods and classification systems work when the permanent storage tunnels are built, as well as what development areas and opportunities are available to improve safety. Investigations further ensuring the performance of the copper canister and the surrounding clay material must be conducted," says Jussi Heinonen.

If the facility is granted a planning and operations permit, the first canisters can be transported down into the final repository about 2020.

On Thursday, SSM also declared in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper that they will reach a decision on the Swedish Nuclear Power Industry's final repository proposal in 2017. SSM writes:
"The decision to build the final repository or not is in the hands of the Government".

SKB has applied to build the encapsulation facility adjacent to the interim storage for spent nuclear fuel (Clab) that is located today in the municipality of Oskarshamn. The company is also applying to erect a final repository facility in the municipality of Östhammar, close to the Forsmark nuclear power plant.


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