Finland's FiR 1 research reactor in Espoo will be permanently shut down in 2015, after being a centre of training and research for over five decades. Continued operation is 'unprofitable,' says VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.
The 250kW TRIGA type reactor was purchased from the United States was started up in Otaniemi in 1962. Originally designed for research and education, FiR 1 was modified for isotope production and radiotherapy in the 1990s.
Radiotherapy ended in January 2012 when the company that organised it went bankrupt. Since then, there has been only minor use for the reactor.
In February 2015, VTT received approval from Finland's Ministry of Employment and the Economy for its environmental impact assessment of decommissioning and dismantling of the reactor. The reactor will be closed prior to its summer shutdown. VTT expects to apply for permission to decommission the reactor in 2016.
VTT says that dismantling of the reactor can start once the spent nuclear fuel has been removed. The primary scenario for disposal of the nuclear fuel is to send it back to Idaho National Laboratory in the USA where similar batches of nuclear fuel from research reactors have previously been sent from several countries.
FiR 1 is Finland's only operating research reactor and also the first reactor to be decommissioned in the country. But VTT says that several TRIGA-type reactors have been decommissioned in Denmark and Germany and that it will draw on the experience for decommissioning FiR 1. Decommissioning of the research reactor will also help in preparing for decommissioning of nuclear plants in Finland.