The application, submitted to Finland’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy on schedule on 28 December 2012.

The complex will include an above-ground encapsulation plant, an underground final repository (400-450 meters deep. It will also comprise facilities for disposal of nuclear waste created during operation and decommissioning of the encapsulation plant, according to the licence application.

"The construction licence application is based on more than 30 years of research and development work, carried out ever since the commissioning of the existing nuclear power plants," said Reijo Sundell, the President of Posiva. Posiva is jointly-owned by Finnish utilities TVO and Fortum.

The processing of the construction licence application now includes a hearing procedure as provided in the Nuclear Energy Act. MEE said that it will invite several ministries, authorities and organizations to comment on the application. The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority will also be asked to assess the safety of the project, and a public consultation will be launched in 2013.

MEE said it estimates the construction licence application will be submitted to the government "towards the end of 2014." If construction is approved, an operating licence will also need to be granted by the government before the facility can start up. Assuming these are both granted final disposal could start in about 2020.

The Olkiluoto repository, with a capacity of 9000 tonnes of spent fuel, will be used for disposal of fuel from Finland’s four existing plants (Olkiluoto 1&2 and Loviisa 1&2) as well as Olkiluoto 3 and 4.

The MEE has urged Posiva to cooperate with Fennovioma to investigate the potential for expanding the repository to host spent fuel from the planned Hanhiviki nuclear plant. However, a MEE working group said in the summer that the exact capacity in Olkiluoto for spent nuclear fuel final disposal would take decades to become clear. It said that 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," and stressed that surveys regarding possible expansion "must not endanger the safety and operational preconditions" of the current project.

Fennovoima has said that it 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.


Photo credit: Posiva Oy