Finnish ministry calls for continued talks on joint disposal

16 December 2016

Fennovoima's environmental impact assessment (EIA) program for its own used nuclear fuel disposal facility is "comprehensive" and meets legal requirements, Finland's Ministry of Employment and the Economy has said. However, the ministry expects Fennovoima to continue cooperation with the licensees of the Onkalo repository project at Olkiluoto.

An EIA program is a plan for the necessary studies and arrangements for the assessment procedure, the ministry said. The program is prepared by the organization responsible for the project and includes a description of the present state of the environment in the area likely to be affected.

Fennovoima submitted its EIA program for its own facility for the disposal of used nuclear fuel from its planned Hanhikivi nuclear power plant in western Finland to the ministry on 22 June this year.

The ministry organized a consultation on the assessment program between 12 September and 9 November. The ministry received 63 statements and comments before the deadline. The Ministry of Environment also organized an international consultation as the project is subject to the transboundary environmental impact assessment specified under the Espoo Convention.

In a statement today, the ministry said the input received from the consultations considers Fennovoima's EIA program to be "comprehensive and fulfilling the requirements of the EAI Act". It added, "Many commentators drew attention to the exceptionally long EIA process and stressed the importance of providing information about the project and the need to update the assessment program information during the procedure of the project. In addition, many respondents consider it important that Fennovoima and the existing licensees cooperate on disposal."

The ministry said it "believes Fennovoima should strive to resolve the issue of encapsulation and disposal of used nuclear fuel in cooperation with the existing licensees based on jointly negotiated commercial contracts". It noted that it considers the most desirable solution is for Fennovoima's used fuel to be placed in Posiva's repository in Olkiluoto, construction of which is expected to start soon.

Fennovoima is expected to present a plan that contains a more detailed timetable for the project by the end of January 2018. This plan must show, among other things, how and when survey areas are defined in the municipalities of Eurajoki and Pyhäjoki, the two alternative sites for the disposal facility presented in Fennovoima's EIA program.

In accordance with the decision-in-principle granted by the Finnish government to Fennovoima in 2010, the company was to submit to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy either a final disposal cooperation agreement with Posiva to participate in the Onkalo repository project, or an EIA program for its own final disposal facility by the end of June. However, Fennovoima failed to secure an agreement for Posiva to manage its used fuel in addition to that of Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) and Fortum, Posiva's joint owners.

Fennovoima aims to complete infrastructure work at the Hanhikivi site in Pyhäjoki in northern Finland by the end of 2017. Construction of the plant - based on a Russian-designed AES-2006 VVER that would produce 1200 MWe - can only start once the construction licence has been issued. Fennovoima said it aims to start building the plant in 2018, with operation beginning in 2024. The final disposal of used fuel from the plant is scheduled to start in the 2090s.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News