Posiva to apply for an operating licence for a spent nuclear fuel disposal facility first in the world
On 30 December 2021, Posiva Oy submitted to the Government an operating licence application referred to in the Nuclear Energy Act for an encapsulation plant and a disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel. The facility is currently under construction in Olkiluoto, Eurajoki. Posiva is applying for an operating licence for a period from March 2024 to the end of 2070.
Posiva has been preparing for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel for more than 40 years. Its encapsulation plant is located above ground, and the fuel repository of underground disposal facility is located in the bedrock at a depth of approximately 400-430 metres.
According to the application, most of the spent nuclear fuel of Posiva’s owners, i.e. Teollisuuden Voima Oyj’s Olkiluoto nuclear power plant and Fortum Power and Heat Oy’s Loviisa nuclear power plant would be disposed of in Posiva’s facility between 2024 and 2070. The disposal of all the spent nuclear fuel of the Posiva owners is expected to be completed until the late 2120s according to the present nuclear power operation plans.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will organise a public consultation regarding the licence application at a later date. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will then request statements from several authorities, organisations and municipalities in the affected area, and provide citizens and communities with an opportunity to express their opinions. These statements and opinions will be taken into account when the operating licence application is processed. The Ministry is also prepared to organise a seminar for authorities during the licence application processing.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment requests a statement on the safety of the encapsulation plant and disposal facility from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). STUK will perform an evaluation to ensure that the encapsulation plant and disposal facility have been built according to plans, that the nuclear facility as a whole can be used safely, and that the personnel of the nuclear facility have been trained to operate the facility safely. The operation and maintenance of the encapsulation plant and disposal facility will be supervised throughout their service life. As an important part of its statement, STUK will evaluate the long-term safety of the facility.
Posiva began the construction of the encapsulation plant and disposal facility in December 2016, after being granted a construction licence by the Government in November 2015. This was the first construction licence in the world to be granted for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Before the licence was granted, the Government issued a decision-in-principle on the construction of Posiva’s encapsulation plant and disposal facility in December 2000, which was extended in January 2002 to cover the spent nuclear fuel of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant unit. Parliament approved the decision-in-principles in May 2001 and 2002.
Under the decision-in-principle, Posiva launched the construction of an underground research facility, ONKALO, in 2004 under STUK supervision. It is now an integral part of the disposal facility.
Linda Kumpula, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 412 4425
Liisa Heikinheimo, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 567 5451