Finland sets out nuclear waste plans

02 March 2022

The Finnish government and nuclear regulator have published a comprehensive plan and an environmental impact assessment for the management of all the used fuel and radioactive waste generated in the country.

The programme was drawn up by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health together with the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk).

The national programme deals extensively with the various aspects of used fuel and radioactive waste management. It includes amounts and locations of used fuel and radioactive waste as well as general objectives, principles, an estimate of the costs and schedule of waste management.

"The primary objective of the national programme is to ensure that all the spent fuel and radioactive waste generated in Finland is safely disposed of and that all the waste management measures from the generation of waste to its disposal are carried out without undue delay," the document says.

The national programme is required by European Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom. In national legislation, provisions on the programme concerning the use of nuclear energy and use of radiation are laid down in the Nuclear Energy Act and the Radiation Act, respectively.

The new national programme replaces the first programme completed in 2015. Updating the programme was necessary for the development of national activities and the future international assessments that will be conducted at regular intervals. The first international peer review is planned for the end of 2022. 

"The national programme for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste may change as the operating environment changes, which is why the national programme must be actively maintained," the report says.

"The national programme is mainly influenced by the development of spent fuel and radioactive waste management in Finland, but changes in other countries may also have an impact on Finland's national programme for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The programme is also being developed to meet the obligations of international agreements and directives."

According to the programme, the total costs of managing the used fuel and radioactive waste from units 1 and 2 of the Loviisa nuclear power plant and units 1-3 of the Olkiluoto plant are estimated at approximately EUR7 billion (USD7.8 billion) for the entire lifetime of the plants (at the 2020 price level).

Of this, the costs of used fuel disposal are approximately EUR5 billion. This figure includes the disposal of used fuel, the construction, operation and closure of the overall facility, as well as Finnish radioactive waste management company Posiva Oy's research and development expenses, property taxes and the costs of regulatory control.

The costs for the management of operational waste from nuclear power plants are approximately EUR150 million. The costs of decommissioning the plants are approximately EUR1.1 billion. The remainder of the costs consist, inter alia, of TVO's and Fortum's research and development costs, interim storage costs, regulatory control costs and taxes.

In connection with the preparation of the programme, an environmental impact assessment was carried out, which includes a description of the operating environment, objectives and likely significant environmental impacts of the project, among other things.

The programme has been prepared in cooperation with operators, which play a key role in implementing the national programme in accordance with legislation. In addition, two consultation rounds were organised as part of the preparation of the programme, during which the authorities, operators in the sector, citizens and corporations were able to present statements and opinions, which have been taken into account in the preparation of the programme.

In January, Posiva submitted its application for an operating licence for the used fuel encapsulation plant and final disposal facility currently under construction at Olkiluoto. The repository - the first in the world for used fuel - is expected to begin operations in the mid-2020s. A similar repository is planned at Forsmark in Sweden.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News