Safety review of Finnish repository delayed

2 October 2023

Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK - Säteilyturvakeskus) said its safety assessment and opinion on the application for a licence for Posiva Oy's used fuel disposal facility under construction at Olkiluoto will not be completed this year. Posiva’s owners – Teollisuuden Voima Oyj’s Olkiluoto NPP and Fortum Power & Heat Oy’s Loviisa NPP – expect to dispose of their used fuel in the facility between 2024 and 2070.

The site for the repository was selected in 2000 and parliament approved the decision-in-principle for the project in 2001. Posiva applied for a construction licence application to the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Employment (TEM) in December 2013. Posiva investigated the rock at Olkiluoto and based its licence application on results from the Onkalo underground laboratory, which will be expanded to form the basis of the repository. The government granted a construction licence in November 2015 and work began in December 2016.

STUK said that, during the second quarter of 2023, it continued to review the licence application of Posiva. Overall, STUK said it had made good progress in processing the licence application, but the review was ongoing. There is a lot of documentation and STUK has also required Posiva to update parts of it. As a result, the work has lasted longer than expected. Once STUK has received the updated licence application material submitted by Posiva, it will prepare a safety assessment, which will be attached to the accompanying safety opinion.

The operating licence of the disposal facility is decided by the government, which can only grant permission if STUK's statement is favourable. TEM has requested STUK's opinion by the end of this year. However, STUK does not believe the opinion will be completed within that time and is preparing to propose an extension.

STUK Project Manager Päivi Mäenalanen does not want to predict how long it will take to make an assessment. “The matter depends not only on STUK but also on Posiva and how quickly it can supply us with the missing material,” he noted. He does not expect a dramatic delay but said it is important that Posiva is able to take care of security and is able to demonstrate it to STUK. He added that there is no indication that this is not the case.

Image: Schematic of the disposal facility at Olkiluoto (courtesy of Posiva)

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