Final disposal

EIA – the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a statutory procedure performed in order to define the environmental impacts of a project. Another purpose of the assessment is to promote the communication to and involvement of citizens, even in the early stages of a project.

No project-related decisions are involved in the EIA as it is performed before any decisions on the licences and permits have been made. The environmental impact assessment report is mandatory when applying for a decision-in-principle concerning, for instance, a new nuclear power plant, a repository for spent nuclear fuel, or an extension to it.

Posiva Performed an Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure in the Late 1990s

During the period 1997 to 1999, Posiva performed an EIA procedure for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Back then, the procedure covered a total of 9,000 uranium tons of spent nuclear fuel, which equals the total amount of spent fuel from six nuclear power plants.

Updated Environmental Impact Assessment Report

In early 2008, Posiva carried out a revised assessment of the environmental impacts of the final disposal, or, in other words, updated the 1990s EIA report. Although the earlier EIA also covered the waste from the sixth nuclear power plant, the coordinating authority required the contents of the report to be brought up to date. The updated report was enclosed with an application for the decision-in-principle concerning the final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel from the Olkiluoto 4 plant unit.

The EIA Procedure for the Repository Extension

In 2008-2009, Posiva also carried out a new EIA procedure for a potential extension of the repository with a capacity of 3,000 tons of uranium. This new environmental impact assessment report was enclosed with an application for the decision-in-principle concerning the final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel from Fortum's Loviisa 3 plant unit.


What is EIA

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a statutory procedure in which the environmental impacts of a project are determined. The assessment is the responsibility of the party implementing the project.


The EIA studies the impacts of the project on, for example, the following issues

  • human health, living conditions and comfort
  • soil, water, air, climate, vegetation, organisms, their mutual interaction, and biodiversity
  • community structure, buildings, landscape, townscape and cultural heritage
  • utilisation of natural resources.

Purpose of the EIA Procedure

The purpose of the procedure is to

  • promote the communication to and involvement of citizens, even in the early stages of the project
  • highlight the environmental impacts that should be taken into consideration in the planning.

No project-related decisions are involved in the EIA, nor does it limit the citizens’ opportunities to contribute to the project in other ways. The EIA procedure is performed before any decisions on the licences and permits are made, and another of its objectives is to offer additional information for decision-making.

The environmental impact assessment report is mandatory when applying for a decision-in-pronciple concerning, for instance, a new nuclear power plant or a repository for spent nuclear fuel. When applying for a decision-in-pronciple concerning a new nuclear power plant, another decision-in-pronciple must be applied for in connection with the disposal of spent fuel from the new plant.


EIA in the 1990s

During the period 1997 to 1999, Posiva performed an environmental impact assessment procedure for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

In 1997, Posiva started drafting an EIA programme for a repository for spent nuclear fuel. The municipalities included were the four potential sites for the repository identified in the site studies: Eurajoki, Kuhmo, Loviisa and Äänekoski.

The EIA programme was drafted with the aid of an extensive citizen involvement system and hearing procedure. During the autumn of 1997, Posiva organised several open discussion events in all candidate municipalities. Citizens’ wishes for new reports and studies were also collected in working groups in which a number of members from various associations and organisations in the municipalities participated. The EIA programme was finished early in 1998, and contained basic information on the repository, on the different options for its construction, on the required licences, etc.

The EIA programme was submitted to the coordinating authority, which, in this project, was the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The review of the EIA programme was accompanied by an extensive hearing procedure, after which, in June 1998, the Ministry of Trade and Industry issued its statement on the programme. The specifications submitted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry were added to the EIA programme, after which the assessment was performed according to the programme.

EIA Report

The EIA report was completed in May 1999 and contained an assessment of the feasibility of the different final disposal options as well as the plans on how to monitor the project and how to prevent any adverse impacts of the project.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry put the EIA report of the final disposal project on public display and requested statements on the report from

  • several municipalities
    • Eurajoki
    • Loviisa
    • Kuhmo
    • Äänekoski
    • as well as their neighbouring municipalities
  • the environmental authorities
  • other involved parties.


The EIA procedure was completed when the Ministry of Trade and Industry provided its statement on the EIA report. In this statement, the Ministry declared the EIA report to be sufficiently extensive and detailed and deemed it fulfilled the requirements of the EIA Act and the EIA Decree.


The EIA Procedure for the Repository Extension

In early 2008, Posiva initiated EIA procedure for a potential extension of the repository with a capacity of 3,000 tons of uranium. This new environmental impact assessment report was enclosed with an application for the decision-in-principle concerning the final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel from Fortum's Loviisa 3 plant unit.

The EIA procedure was initiated with the drafting of an environmental impact assessment programme (EIA programme). The EIA programme is a written plan indicating what kind of environmental impacts will be accounted for, how the EIA procedure will be organised and what kind of studies are necessary.

Posiva submitted the EIA programme to the coordinating authority at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy on 13 May 2008. The Ministry requested statements from the municipalities within the project's impact area, as well as from several authorities. Citizens and various corporations also had a chance to express their opinions about the programme. On the basis of these statements and opinions, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy finally issued its own statement on the EIA programme.

An environmental impact assessment report (an EIA report) was then drafted on the basis of the EIA programme and the associated statements. The EIA report was submitted to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy on 31 October 2008.

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy announced the project in public and started the period for public hearing on 10 November 2008. During the public hearing period citizens and organisations could give comments on the report. A public cathering was also organised on 20 November 2008 and public hearing ended on 12 January 2009. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy gave its own statement at March 2009 and Posiva gave the asked further clarifications at April 2009.


Stages of the EIA procedure

There are two stages in the EIA procedure: the EIA programme is first completed and the environmental impact assessment report is drawn up on the basis of the programme.

The EIA procedure sets out with the compilation of an environmental impact assessment programme (EIA programme). The EIA programme is a written plan indicating the types of environmental impacts that will be investigated and how the EIA procedure will be organised.

The programme is submitted to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, which will request statements on it from
  • the municipalities affected by the project
  • different authorities
  • Finnish citizens
  • corporations. 

The Ministry of the Environment presents the project to the authorities of the Baltic coastal states and Finland’s neighbouring states. The authorities will then organise the hearing of their own citizens and issue statements. According to law, the duration of this hearing period shall be 30-60 days. Based on the issued statements and opinions, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy will issue its own statement on the EIA programme.

An environmental impact assessment report
will then be issued, based on the EIA programme and the statements issued on it. The assessment report is delivered to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, which will collect the opinions of different parties and statements of other authorities during the hearing period and issue its own statement.

After the Ministry’s statement, a decision-in-pronciple can be applied for in the project whose environmental impacts were assessed. The environmental impact assessment report forms an enclosure to the application for a decision-in-pronciple.

YVA-menettelyn vaiheet EN web


Share article: