Nuclear waste company plans major investment at disposal site in southwest Finland

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Most of Onkalo is located more than 400 metres below the surface of Olkiluoto Island on the Gulf of Bothnia. (Wif Stenger/Yle)
Nuclear waste firm Posiva is to spend some 500 million euros on a production facility for spent fuel handling at its underground Onkalo site, adjacent to the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Eurajoki, southwest Finland.

The company plans to build a final disposal facility and an encapsulation plant, which it says will allow spent nuclear fuel rods to be stored safely for millennia.

Posiva is owned by the utilities TVO and Fortum, which plan to use Onkalo to store waste from Olkiluoto and Loviisa nuclear power plants.

Olkiluoto has two reactors, with a long-delayed third one due to begin operations sometime next year, more than a decade behind schedule. Plans for a fourth reactor have been shelved. Loviisa has two reactors built in the late 1970s.

Posiva has said there is no room at Onkalo for waste from the proposed Fennovoima plant in northern Finland, which has yet to receive a construction permit.

“World’s first” safe disposal system

Sections of the Onkalo storage cave that have already been dug out will be upgraded with systems needed for beginning the final disposal procedures.

According to Posiva CEO Janne Mokka, the investment decision paves the way for the world’s first safe final disposal system for nuclear waste.

“In Finland, full life-cycle management is a precondition for the production of climate-friendly nuclear electricity. Posiva will execute the final disposal of the spent fuel of its owners’ Olkiluoto and Loviisa nuclear power plants responsibly,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

The firm estimates that the half-billion-euro construction project will generate some 2,500 person years of employment.

“We expect to award contracts for the most significant works in the near future,” Mokka added.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Test clean energy solutions in south before implementing them in Arctic communities: report, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finnish gov grants operating license to third Olkiluoto nuclear reactor, Yle News

Norway: Rising nuclear activity in Arctic Europe prompts Norway to update disaster plans, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Floating nuclear plant’s reactors tested at full capacity, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: How Stockholm’s biggest solar cell complex came to be, Radio Sweden

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