Final disposal


The spent nuclear fuel will first be stored in interim storage facilities at the Fortum plant in Loviisa and the TVO plant in Eurajoki. Then it will be transported to the encapsulation plant in special-purpose casks as special transport.

As Olkiluoto in the municipality of Eurajoki has been selected as the final disposal site, there is no need for long-distance transportation except from Hästholmen in Loviisa. The total annual required number of transports from Loviisa to Eurajoki is about four.  The transportation of spent fuel from Loviisa to Olkiluoto is planned to be performed as road transportation, but railroad and ship transportation and a combination of these three have also been examined as optional transportation methods.

There is a great deal of experience on the safety of transportation of spent nuclear fuel in Finland. Spent nuclear fuel has been transported from power plants to interim storage facilities and, during the period from 1981 to 1996, it has also been exported from Loviisa to Russia (or the Soviet Union).

Transportation in Impact-Resistant Special-Purpose Casks

The fuel assemblies to be transferred to the interim storage facility will be packed in an impact-resistant transportation cask for the transfer. The cask prevents any damage occurring to the fuel assemblies during the transfer and also provides protection from radiation. Similar casks are used also when spent nuclear fuel is transported from the interim storage facilities at the plant area to the disposal site.

The principal idea in transportation is that transport casks must not lose their radiation protection features even in the worst conceivable accidents. Therefore, the transport cask must endure at least the following:
  • a drop to a nonresilient base at the least favourable angle of incidence from a height of 9 metres
  • the thermal conditions caused by a fire with a flame temperature of 800°C for at least 30 minutes
  • an immersion in water to a depth of 200 m for a minimum of one hour.

Official Supervision of Nuclear Waste Transports

The transportation of spent nuclear fuel is strictly regulated by national and international regulations and agreements. The International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA published the first transportation guidelines as early as 1961.

In Finland, a licence must be acquired from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority for each transport of spent nuclear fuel. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority will inspect

  • the transportation plan
  • the structure of the transport cask
  • the qualifications of the transportation personnel
  • the provisions made for accidents and malicious damage.

Nuclear Waste Transports Elsewhere in the World

A great deal of experience has been gained on the transportation of spent nuclear fuel. There are several European countries, as well as Japan, who transport spent nuclear fuel to France and the UK for reprocessing. Sweden transports the spent nuclear fuel from all its nuclear power plants to the Oskarshamn interim storage facility by sea.

Road Transportation

There are several possible routes for road transportation from Loviisa to Olkiluoto. Transportation will be carried out as supervised transportation, which means that the transport will be escorted by the required security personnel, such as the police and STUK’s supervisor.

The transportation cask for spent fuel will be loaded onto a special-purpose lorry in the nuclear power plant’s spent fuel storage facility using a crane. The cask will be tilted to a horizontal position on a transport platform for transportation, and collision guards will be installed at both ends of the cask. During transportation, the cask and the transportation platform are covered with a tarpaulin for protection against the weather.

Rail Transportation

The route for the rail transportation option consists of the railroad section and road sections at Loviisa and Olkiluoto. Transportation from the power plant to the railroad and from the railroad to the disposal facility requires the same equipment, escort and security measures as road transportation.

The existing railroad network would be used for rail transportation. The distance for road transportation at both the Loviisa and Olkiluoto ends of the journey is about 20 kilometres. Deep-loading carriages would be used for the transportation of containers by railroad.

Sea Transportation

Spent nuclear fuel can also be transported from Loviisa to Olkiluoto by sea. For sea transportation, a vessel suitable for the purpose will be used, classified for the transportation of spent nuclear fuel.

The port of departure will be either the port of Valko in Loviisa, or possibly a new port to be built at the Loviisa power plant site. Two optional routes have been inspected in the Gulf of Finland. An alternative to the route through the archipelago is a route around the Åland Islands.

The destination port would be

  • the port of Rauma
  • the TVO plant area
  • Olkiluoto.

Sea transportation can be implemented, for instance, using a ship similar in type to the M/S Sigyn or the newer M/S Sigrid, owned by SKB, the company responsible for nuclear waste management in Sweden. The vessels have been specially constructed for the purpose of transporting spent nuclear fuel. Transport casks lying horizontally on a transportation platform are loaded on board the ship with a transfer vehicle. The transportation platform is detached from the transfer vehicle and fastened to the ship's deck for the sea transport. If necessary, the casks will be transported between the interim storage facility and the ports using similar equipment as in the road transportation option.

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