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Nuclear waste firm plans big investment at Olkiluoto final disposal site

According to Posiva, the decision will lead to the world's first safe final disposal system for nuclear waste.

Työmiehiä työssä loppusijoitusluola Onkalossa.
Most of Onkalo is located more than 400 metres below the surface of Olkiluoto Island on the Gulf of Bothnia. Image: 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"

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

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