Finnish firms target Chinese radwaste market

23 August 2018

Finnish utility Fortum and consulting engineering company AINS Group have signed a memorandum of understanding to provide radioactive waste management services to China's rapidly expanding nuclear industry.

Radioactive waste drums at the Loviisa plant (Image: Fortum)

Through the MoU, the companies will provide services for the management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste in China. The agreement also enhances cooperation between the firms and other Finnish companies and organisations, including VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and Posiva Solutions.

Based on expected installed nuclear generating capacity of 50 GWe by 2020, China's annual used fuel arisings will amount to about 1200 tonnes at that stage, the cumulative total being about 14,000 tonnes then.

"As China becomes increasingly mindful of environmental integrity and reduces its use of fossil fuels, [its] zero-carbon nuclear energy solution requires enhanced focus on radioactive waste management," the companies said in a joint statement. "Finnish expertise has an important role in disposing of Chinese radioactive waste and building a cleaner future together with shared respect for nature and the environment."

Forum and AINS noted that Finnish nuclear power plant operators are "at the leading edge" of radioactive waste management. "They were the first ones in the world to construct a final repository for used nuclear fuel and have been running underground disposal facilities for low- and intermediate-level waste since the 1990s."

Fortum owns and operates the Loviisa nuclear power plant, which has its own underground disposal facility for the radioactive waste it produces. It will also eventually take waste generated from the decommissioning of the Loviisa plant. Fortum designed and constructed the disposal facility, with AINS participating in its design.

Jari Tuunanen, head of nuclear waste at Fortum, said: "At Loviisa, low- and intermediate-level waste (LLW/ILW) from normal plant operations and plant decommissioning is processed and disposed of at the nuclear power plant site by Fortum's personnel. This minimises the need for transportation of the waste and makes it possible for us to optimise the LLW/ILW management from generation to disposal."

AINS's nuclear waste management business initially started the design of LLW/ILW facilities for Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) in the late 1970s. That repository has been in operation at Olkiluoto since 1992. The company also designed a larger disposal facility at South Korea's Wolsong plant, which began operating in 2015. AINS has also provided consulting engineering services in radioactive waste projects in 20 other countries.

"There are big differences in how different radioactive waste types are managed, but one common approach is that it is safer to build these disposal facilities underground," said Timo Saanio, vice president of international operations at AINS Group.

Finnish waste management company Posiva - jointly owned by Fortum and TVO - launched Posiva Solutions in June 2016. The business, it said, would "focus on the marketing of the know-how accumulated from the design, research and development efforts in the final disposal of used nuclear fuel, as well as on associated consulting services".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News