Early construction contracts for Finland’s final deep geologic radioactive waste repository indicate costs meet expectations, but commodity price rises remain a long term risk, according to Sami Hautakangas, head of used fuel and disposal services at Fortum, co-owner with Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) of repository developer Posiva.
Hautakangas said Posiva’s construction phase procurement costs indicate the developer’s original cost estimate and schedule is “more or less in the right place”. The cost of key materials such as copper and bentonite will remain a project risk due to the long timelines involved.
In December 2016, Posiva began construction of the repository, the world's first permanent underground nuclear waste storage facility, on Olkiluoto island, Finland. In the same month, Posiva said it has signed a €20m ($21m) contract for the excavation of the first tunnels for the Olkiluoto facility with YIT Construction. Posiva is to carry out repository excavation work in a series of eight phases, which will allow investments to be broken down into portions over time and provide new site data to aid subsequent construction decisions.
Finland's government awarded a construction permit for the project in November 2015 and a year later Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) authorised works to begin. The facility is expected to be operational by 2024.