Fortum permitted to operate Loviisa repository longer

31 March 2023

Finland's State Council has granted a new operating licence to Fortum for its low and intermediate-level waste (LLW/ILW) disposal facility at the Loviisa nuclear power plant. The new licence allows the repository to be operated until 2090, instead of 2055 under the previous licence, and now includes waste from the decommissioning of the Loviisa plant.

(Image: Fortum)

The final disposal facility was built at a depth of 110 metres on the island of Hästholmen in the 1990s. The first phase of construction was finished in 1997 the facility began operating in 1998. It was expanded in 2010–2012.

The Finnish government granted a licence in April 1998 allowing the facility to be used for the final disposal of LLW/ILW generated through the operation of the two-unit Loviisa plant, as well as for interim storage of used nuclear fuel. The licence - valid until the end of 2055 - also allowed for the final disposal of small quantities of waste generated in operations other than the operation of the Loviisa plant.

Fortum submitted an application in March 2022 to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM) to operate both Loviisa units until the end of 2050. The current operating licences expire at the end of 2027 and 2030, respectively. The company also applied for a licence to operate the LLW/ILW disposal facility located at the Loviisa site until 2090.

The new licence, which replaces the previous one, allows the disposal of up to 50,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste generated in the decommissioning and dismantling of the Loviisa plant, in addition to up to 50,000 cubic metres of waste generated through its operation. It also permits the disposal of up to 2000 cubic metres of LLW/ILW generated elsewhere in Finland.

The first waste originating away from the Loviisa site will be from the decommissioning of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland's research reactor FiR 1 and research laboratory for radioactive materials.

Although the new operating licence is valid until the end of 2090, in accordance with plans, the operation of the final disposal facility is expected to come to an end prior to this, no later than during the 2080s. The repository will then be permanently closed during the validity of the operating licence once the radioactive waste from the decommissioning of the Loviisa plant has been deposited in it.

Fortum said the existing repository will be expanded "in such a way that the radioactive waste from the decommissioning of the Loviisa power plant can also be placed there. The expansion is planned to be implemented in the late 2040s, before the decommissioning of the power plant".

In its assessment of Fortum's application, the Swedish Radiation Protection Agency (STUK) considered the safety status of the disposal facility to be favourable, both in terms of operational and long-term safety. STUK also stated in its decision that the company has the necessary procedures and resources to continue the safe use of the plant.

Used fuel generated at the Loviisa plant will be disposed of at Posiva's used nuclear fuel disposal facility, jointly owned by Fortum and TVO. That repository is under construction at Eurajoki, near the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, and is expected to begin operations in the mid-2020s.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News