Report: capacity of Olkiluoto repository remains uncertain

27 June 2012

The group investigating Finnish nuclear power companies’ cooperation in nuclear waste management has submitted an interim report on the progress of its work to Jyri Häkämies, Minister of Economic Affairs.

In March, the Ministry of Employment and Economy appointed the working group to steer the nuclear power companies’ joint investigation of the alternatives for disposal of nuclear fuel. Their work is due to be completed by the end of 2012.

Currently a final disposal facility is planned for Olkiluoto to take spent fuel from the Olkiluoto and Loviisa reactors.

By 2016, Fennovoima, which proposes to build a new plant at Pyhäjoki in northern Finland, must present either an environmental impact assessment programme of its own final disposal facility for spent fuel, or an agreement regarding nuclear waste-related cooperation with the current nuclear waste management custodians, to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

The task of the working group is to collect existing material for comparison of alternatives, to perform preliminary comparison of the final disposal alternatives if necessary, and to give recommendations for further work. Information regarding building two separate facilities and the current state and expansion of the planned facilities is required in order to compare final disposal alternatives.

According to the working group, extending the Olkiluoto final disposal facility to accommodate Fennovoima’s nuclear waste (some 3000 tonnes of uranium) would require a derogation from Posiva’s current research and operational principles

It said that the exact capacity in Olkiluoto for spent nuclear fuel final disposal would take decades to become clear, and that on the basis of this information “it can neither be proven nor ruled out whether more than 12,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel might be placed in final disposal in the Olkiluoto bedrock section.”

The working group even went as far to say that it is not certain whether there is room in Olkiluoto even for the planned 12,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel.

Possible surveys regarding an expansion to the Olkiluoto final disposal facility must not endanger the safety and operational preconditions of the current final disposal project, the working group said.

According to the MEE, Fennovoima will continue the preparation of an environmental impact assessment programme of its own nuclear waste final disposal solution, which will present a number of alternative final disposal sites.


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