No room at the repository

09 March 2012

A repository for used fuel from TVO and Fortum's reactors could not safely be expanded to accommodate used fuel from Fennovoima's planned plant, the companies have said, despite government pressure to make a deal.

Newcomer Fennovoima plans to build a nuclear power plant at Pyhäjoki and has received a governmental decision-in-principle to allow it to do so, but will not be able to secure a construction licence until it has a plan in place to manage its used fuel. Finland's established nuclear utilities, TVO and Fortum, will be able to dispose of used fuel from their current and future plants in a repository to be built close to the existing Olkiluoto nuclear power plant by waste management company Posiva. Posiva is jointly owned by Fortum and TVO.

Fennovoima has not so far been successful in securing an agreement for Posiva to manage its used fuel in addition to TVO and Fortum's. The Finnish government recently told the companies they must work together to solve the used fuel impasse.

In a joint statement, TVO CEO Jarmo Tanhua and Matti Ruotsala, director of Fortum's power division, assert that the companies are already fulfilling their obligations under Finnish law. Ruotsala said that the companies were actively involved in cooperation, and had provided Posiva's expertise to Fennovoima on a number of occasions over the past two years. But they say the size of the planned repository, which has been designed to be suitable to cope with the disposal needs of Posiva's owners, cannot be expanded for practical safety reasons.

Posiva's repository project is backed by over 30 years of research, development and investment, including site selection and bedrock studies. As currently planned, the repository could hold up to 12,000 tonnes of used fuel at a depth of 420 metres, the companies note. It has been designed to accommodate the fuel from the four operating reactors and the first-of-a-kind EPR under construction at Olkiluoto 3.

The Finnish government has given Posiva permission to expand the planned Olkiluoto repository, which would enable it to accommodate used fuel from the new Olkiluoto 4 reactor planned by TVO. TVO and Fortum maintain that it could not be extended any further without compromising its long-term safety.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News