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Battle for nuclear waste disposal site

The energy company Fennovoima and the nuclear waste disposal company Posiva have clashed over the underground nuclear waste disposal site of Onkalo on Finland's west coast.

Onkalon käytävää.
Image: Yle

Posiva is currently constructing a permanent storage site near the Olkiluoto power plant for use by the disposal company's owners, Teollisuuden Voima and Fortum.

Competing utility Fennovoima would like a stake in the Olkiluoto site, since it would be cheaper and faster than constructing its own disposal facility, but Posiva has rejected the proposal. Fennovoima plans to begin building its first nuclear plant in Pyhäjoki by the end of this year.

As the dispute continues, initial calculations by the Lappeenranta University of Technology show that Fennovoima could pay for construction of its own disposal site from profits from its nuclear plant.

It would cost Fennovoima an estimated 1.3 billion euros to build its own waste disposal facility, whereas a shared facility would save 200 - 300 million euros. While that seems like a large figure, it must be remembered that the Fennovoima nuclear power plant would earn twice that amount in electricity sales annually, some 600 million euros. As such, Fennovoima could build its own waste storage plant with the profits from a few years of operations. The nuclear power plant itself would continue earning for up to sixty years.

Esa Vakkilainen, Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems at the Lappeenranta University of Technology, said the only realistic option would be for Fennovoima to commission its own disposal facility from Posiva at market prices.

Fennovoima and Posiva declined comment on the rough calculations provided by the Lappeenranta academics. The parties say they are awaiting the report of a nuclear waste working group, due out at the end of the year. The report will provide recommendations on the number of nuclear waste disposal sites required in Finland.

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