Finnish waste fund continues to grow

26 March 2013

Finnish nuclear operators had set aside a total of €2.16 billion ($2.77 billion) by the end of 2012 for waste disposal and decommissioning activities, the country's Ministry for Employment and the Economy reported.

At the end of 2011 the Nuclear Waste Management Fund stood at just under €2.1 billion ($2.7 billion). The fund generated a profit of some €36 million ($46 million) in 2012, compared with a profit of about €39 million ($50 million) in 2011. These profits were paid back into the fund.

The ministry estimates that the amount now in the fund is sufficient to deal with the country's current nuclear waste stockpile, as well as for the decommissioning of its existing nuclear power plants.

Utilities Fortum and Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) pay into the fund to cover the costs of waste management from their Loviisa and Olkiluoto nuclear power plants. The charges are set annually by the government according to the assessed liabilities for each company, and also cover decommissioning. The charges account for about 10% of nuclear electricity production costs. VTT Technical Research also contributes to the fund to cover costs related to the FiR-1 research reactor.

The ministry said Fortum and TVO will pay about €83 million ($107 million) into the fund in 2013.

Finland's nuclear waste management program was initiated in 1983, soon after the country's four existing reactors started commercial operation. The 1987 Nuclear Energy Act included final disposal as an option, and set up the nuclear waste management fund under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. A 1994 amendment of the Act stipulates that wastes should be handled wholly in the country. Reactor decommissioning is the responsibility of the two power companies separately, and plans are updated every five years. Responsibility for nuclear wastes remains with the power companies until final disposal.

Posiva - a waste management specialist jointly owned by Finnish nuclear utilities Fortum and TVO - submitted an application to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in December 2012 for the construction of a final repository and waste encapsulation plant at Olkiluoto, with the aim of permanently storing the used nuclear fuel from its owners' nuclear power plants.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News