Final disposal

Decision-in-Principle

A prerequisite for constructing a repository for spent nuclear fuel is a decision-in-principle from the Government, confirming that the construction benefits society as a whole.

A decision-in-principle is applied for by submitting an application to the Government. For the discussion on the application for the decision-in-principle, the Ministry for Employment and the Economy requests statements from the council of the municipality in which the planned repository is to be located (the municipality has the right of veto), from the neighbouring municipalities, and from other institutions such as the Ministry of Environment. In addition, the Ministry acquires a preliminary safety assessment on the project from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

One decision-in-principle does not apply to the disposal of all spent fuel; instead, the estimated amount of spent fuel from each plant is assessed separately. For example the decision-principle about the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel from the Olkiluoto 3 unit  was done separately.

Decisions-in-Principles Regarding Posiva

Decisions-in-principle were made in the early 2000s according to which the spent fuel produced by the Olkiluoto and Loviisa nuclear power plants already in operation and the new plant currently being built in Olkiluoto shall be disposed of in Olkiluoto, Eurajoki. Further, in 2010 the Government made and Parliament ratified a decision-in-principle according to which the spent fuel produced by the Olkiluoto 4 unit shall be finally disposed of in Olkiluoto.


What is a Decision-in-Principle and
How Do You Apply It?

A decision-in-principle taken by the Government means a decision to the effect that something is in the overall interest of society. A decision-in-principle is applied for by submitting an application to the Government. For the discussion on the application for the decision-in-principle, the Ministry for Employment and the Economy requests statements from the council of the municipality in which the planned repository is to be located, from the neighbouring municipalities, and from other institutions such as the Ministry of Environment. In addition, the Ministry acquires a preliminary safety assessment on the project from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

Before a decision-in-principle can be made, the applicant must publish an overall description of the planned project, the environmental impact it is expected to have, and of its safety, and make the description generally available to the public. An EIA report must also be enclosed with the application for the decision-in-principle.

Before the decision-in-principle is made, the Ministry shall arrange a public gathering in the municipality in which the planned site of the facility is located and during this gathering the public shall have the opportunity to give their opinions. These opinions shall be made known to the Government.

The Government discusses the possibility of granting the decision-in-principle. A supporting statement from the municipality in which the planned nuclear facility is to be located is an essential prerequisite for a positive decision-in-principle.

The Government decision-in-principle shall be forwarded to the Parliament for ratification. The Parliament may reject the decision-in-principle as such or may decide that it remains in force as such, but is not allowed to revise its contents.

Prior to the entry into force of the decision-in-principle, the applicant shall not enter into any financially significant procurement agreements relating to the construction of the facility.


Posivas decisions-in-principles

The Government has made and Parliament ratified a decision-in-principle according to which the spent fuel produced by the following nuclear power plant units shall be disposed of in Olkiluoto, Eurajoki: Loviisa units 1 & 2 and Olkiluoto units 1–4.

Decision-in-principle regarding the final disposal of spent fuel produced by the Olkiluoto 1 & 2 and Loviisa 1 &2 units

Posiva submitted an application for a decision-in-principle to the Government in 1999. In this application, Posiva proposed the Olkiluoto bedrock in Eurajoki as the site for the final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel from the Olkiluoto and Loviisa power plants in operation at that time, and that the KBS-3 Concept  would be the chosen method for carrying out the final disposal.

For the decision, the Government requested statements from the Municipality of Eurajoki (which had a right of veto in the question) and from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. The municipal council of Eurajoki approved Olkiluoto as the site for the repository by 20 votes to 7. Having received these statements, the Government saw no obstacle to a positive decision-in-principle  which was made in December 2000. The proposal was further discussed by Parliament, which, in May 2001, ratified the Government’s positive decision-in-principle by 159 votes to 3.

Decision-in-Principle on the Final Disposal of the Spent Nuclear Fuel from Olkiluoto 3

In 2002 the Government made a decision-in-principle on the final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel from Olkiluoto 3 in the Olkiluoto bedrock.

Decision-in-Principle on the Final Disposal of the Spent Nuclear Fuel from Olkiluoto 4

On 25 April 2008, Posiva submitted an application to the Government for a decision-in-principle for the final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel from Olkiluoto 4 in the Olkiluoto bedrock. The application for a decision-in-principle was accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment Report prepared in the late 1990s and an up-to-date account of the environmental impacts of the expansion of the final disposal facility.

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy announced the project in public and started the period for public hearing on 19 September 2008. The period for hearing ended on 19 November 2008.  A public hearing meeting was organised during the said period at the Vuojoki Mansion on 22 November. Four standpoints were presented in the meeting. The presented standpoints will be brought to the Government’s attention.

On 15 December 2008, the Muncipal Council of Eurajoki issued a statement in favour of the expansion of the spent nuclear fuel disposal facility to accommodate the fuel from the Olkiluoto 4 unit (OL4 unit). The statement was unanimously approved at the Council meeting. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) issued its preliminary safety assessment of the project in June 2009. STUK saw no reason why the project could not proceed.

On 21 April 2010, the Government made a positive decision-in-principle according to which the spent fuel from the Olkiluoto 4 unit shall be disposed of in Olkiluoto. Parliament ratified the decision on 1 July 2010 by 159 votes to 35.

At the same time with the application for the decision-in-principle regarding the final disposal of spent fuel from the Olkiluoto 4 unit, the application regarding the final disposal of spent fuel from the Loviisa 3 unit was also being processed. However, the Government did not make a decision-in-principle regarding the construction of the Loviisa 3 plant unit which is why it did not decide on the final disposal of its spent fuel either.


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