08.02.2013 08:22

Focus of work at Olkiluoto turns to implementation of final disposal

When Posiva submitted the construction permit application for the final disposal facility in late 2012, the company reached a significant goal in its final disposal project. In the future, the focus of work at Olkiluoto will increasingly turn to the preparation of the implementation of the final disposal.

What exactly does the spent nuclear fuel final disposal facility construction permit application concern, Reijo Sundell, President of Posiva?

“The construction permit application concerns a complex comprising an above-ground encapsulation plant and an underground final repository. The complex also includes facilities intended for the final disposal of nuclear waste created during the operation and decommissioning of the encapsulation plant.”

Reijo Sundell_web
Reijo Sundell

How much work did the submission of the application require from Posiva?

“Everyone at Posiva had their sights set on the submission of the construction permit application. The Government had approved the schedule as early as 1983, and it was updated in 2003. We still used all the time available, continuing working up to the final weeks. In addition to the spent nuclear fuel final disposal facility construction permit application that we submitted to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, we submitted to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) the related long-term safety justification documentation, totalling approximately 16,000 pages.”

How will the permit process progress from here?

“The application will be processed by the authorities. STUK will submit its statement on the long-term safety of final disposal, based on the safety justification submitted by Posiva, to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Furthermore, the Ministry will request statements from several cooperating parties and organise a public hearing on the matter. We can further supplement the application during the present year.

If we are granted the spent nuclear fuel final disposal facility construction permit as planned, the construction of the facility could start in 2015. In this case, we would be ready to submit the facility operating licence application in 2020, and the actual disposal at the planned scope could begin in 2022.”

What will the people at Posiva keep themselves busy with during the processing of the construction permit application?

“We will keep testing the final disposal concept and gathering more information on the functionality of the associated equipment, systems and methods. Full-scale testing of final disposal technology will start in the underground research facility ONKALO. Naturally, the testing will be performed without any actual fuel.

The testing performed in ONKALO will include equipment-specific tests. In the spring, the disposal canister transfer and installation vehicle will be transported to Olkiluoto, followed by the bentonite block installation device later this year. The disposal hole boring device, which had been transported to the site earlier, was already tested last year.

The final repository sealing-off technology will be tested at full scale as part of an extensive European development project.

Furthermore, Posiva will define the selection criteria for the disposal tunnels in more detail. This will involve determining the final location of the tunnels on the island of Olkiluoto, as well as the method of their excavation.”

Will the focus of Posiva's activities change as the final disposal period approaches?

“While the resesearch at Olkiluoto will not end, the focus of the work will increasingly turn to the implementation of the final disposal. The project plans for the construction of the encapsulation plant and the final disposal facility will be completed by next summer.

Furthermore, we will begin to prepare for the future operating phase. This will also be taken into account in our future recruitment plans. Due to this change of focus, we implemented some changes to our organisation in early February in order for it to better comply with the future job descriptions.”

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