Nuclear waste management company Posiva said that it has not changed its mind about allowing spent fuel from the Fennovoima nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki to be stored in its Onkalo waste facility being built further south on the west coast.
Posiva has said that the subterranean cave is reserved for use only by joint owners Teollisuuden Voima, TVO, which operates a series of reactors at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Eurajoki, western Finland, and energy giant Fortum, which operates its own nuclear power facilities in Loviisa, southern Finland. The latter also has a six-percent stake in the controversial Fennovoima project.
Posiva chief executive Janne Mokka said that the spent nuclear fuel depository and its surrounding areas have been reserved only for waste generated by TVO and Fortum.
Fennovoima has expressed the hope that possible waste from its Pyhäjoki nuclear facility could be accommodated in the Posiva cave.
However Posiva CEO Mokka said that the firm had so far mainly discussed how it could pass on the expertise earned from the Posiva deep geological depository to the Pyhäjoki project.
Disposal plan to be filed with ministry officials
Posiva began working on the depository in 2004, but only received a final green light for the project in November last year. It is to begin operations sometime in the early 2020s.
Fennovoima is currently planning a final waste disposal plan that is due to be lodged with the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in a few months.
However if the company cannot reach an agreement with Posiva, it will have to present ministry officials with an environmental impact assessment as part of alternative disposal plan.
Steadfast refusal from Posiva
Fennovoima has remained tight-lipped about possible cooperation with Posiva, but would only say that the matter is being discussed. A Fennovoima spokesperson said that the company is currently preparing a report into a waste disposal facility with the help of internal consultants.
Back in 2012, Posiva had already indicated that it would not accept waste from any other nuclear facility apart from that produced by its owners, TVO and Fortum. The Eurajoki subterranean disposal site is the world’s first permanent deep storage facility.
Spent fuel from the Fortum and TVO plants will have to be stored for 40-60 years before it cools enough to be stored underground. As the oldest Finnish reactors have been in operation since the late 1970s, some of their waste will soon be old enough for encapsulation.
40-year, €3.3bn project
The facility, which has been planned since 1983, is intended to keep the waste safe for some 100,000 years. The companies have estimated the price tag for the entire project at 3.3 billion euros.
Posiva's initial refusal to host the waste from the Fennovoima project came just as Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court overturned appeals to block the project's progress.
The motions were filed by one private individual and a number of environmental protection organisations seeking to block construction at two sites under consideration, one at Simo and the other at Pyhäjoki, both in the northwest.
The project has otherwise been beset by setbacks and controversy, but infrastructure work began in September last year.
Under Finnish law, all waste from nuclear facilities must be permanently stored in Finland.