Fennovoima and Posiva reach agreement on nuclear waste cooperation

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 22.6.2016 11.30
Press release

Fennovoima has reached agreement with Posiva concerning cooperation on nuclear waste management. This cooperation involves research and development tasks connected with the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel, the aim being that Fennovoima will be in a position to submit an application for a decision-in-principle concerning the final disposal of its own spent nuclear fuel. The cooperation agreement covers the next ten years.

"I am very pleased about the start of this partnership. Final disposal requires a diversity of broad-based know-how and expertise. The partnership allows Posiva's expertise to be used to good effect in Fennovoima's final disposal project," says Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn.

Separate environmental impact assessment programme for Fennovoima's final disposal project 

Fennovoima is about to submit to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, by the deadline of 30 June 2016, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) programme concerning the final disposal of its own spent nuclear fuel. Fennovoima has chosen two alternative locations for the final disposal, Pyhäjoki and Eurajoki, where, in collaboration with Posiva, it will study the possible effects on the local population and environment of the construction and operation of Fennovoima's own encapsulation and final disposal facility.

The studies will include follow-up geological studies, because the most important criterion in the choice of the site for final disposal will be the geological properties of the bedrock that enable safe final disposal. Posiva carried out a similar EIA at four locations in the 1990s, for the purpose of selecting a final disposal site. This know-how will now also be available for the selection of Fennovoima's final disposal site.

Fennovoima has announced it will select the site for a final disposal facility in the 2040s

Fennovoima has chosen Eurajoki and Pyhäjoki as the alternative locations for its final disposal site. In the construction licence application for the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant, Fennovoima proposed that it would not choose the final disposal site until the facility's decision-in-principle stage in the 2040s.

Fennovoima has not selected a final disposal site at this stage. The company has proposed two municipalities, which it intends to study for the purpose of selecting a final disposal site. The municipal council for the location of the final disposal site will have the right to approve or reject final disposal within its boundaries at the decision-in-principle stage. The current position is that this decision will be made more than 20 years from now.

In the municipality of Eurajoki, the final disposal studies will focus at this stage on a broader area, and Fennovoima's spent nuclear fuel will not automatically be disposed of at the final disposal facility to be built in connection with Posiva's final disposal facility (ONKALO). 

The amount of spent nuclear fuel that can be fitted in the rock repository at Posiva's final disposal facility is limited and will become clearer over the coming decades, when the final disposal tunnels are constructed. The final disposal canisters will be placed only in deposition hole that meet the criteria, to ensure safety in the long term as well. The deposition hole rejection rate is not known at this stage.

"The essential thing is that Fennovoima and Posiva have reached agreement on working together. I strongly believe that as the final disposal projects progress, cooperation will give rise to a common national solution that is optimal in terms of finances and safety," says Minister Rehn.

 "Under section 29 of the Nuclear Energy Act, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is able to force entities that have waste management responsibilities to engage in waste management cooperation. Because the companies have reached agreement themselves on cooperation, the Ministry did not deem it relevant to use the coercion provision at this stage," explains Minister Rehn.

Ministry will take a position later concerning an extension for processing of the construction licence application

Fennovoima submitted an environmental impact assessment programme due to the Government having set a condition, in 2010, in the decision-in-principle on the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant, under which Fennovoima would have to present to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, by 30 June 2016, either an agreement on nuclear waste cooperation with the present entities responsible for waste management, or, under the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure Act, an EIA programme on Fennovoima's own spent nuclear fuel disposal facility.

Neglect of this condition would lead to suspension of the Ministry's processing of the construction licence application for the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant, and a construction licence under the Nuclear Energy Act would not then be issued for the project.

With Fennovoima submitting the EIA programme, the Ministry can now consider whether the condition set out in the decision-in-principle is met and whether the processing of Fennovoima's construction licence application can continue in this respect. The condition was imposed in order to ensure that Fennovoima also acts responsibly in planning the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel and that the matter can be ensured before consideration of the construction licence.

Fennovoima submitted the construction licence application to the Government in June 2015, and the construction licence application will come to the Government for its decision no sooner than the early part of 2018.


Inquiries:
Herkko Plit, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 462 0788

Markku Rajala, Special Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs, tel. +358 50 345 8490