11.12.2013 09:30

Periodic review: Posiva is preparing for testing disposal techniques and the construction of the facility

Next year, Posiva will begin full-scale testing at the ONKALO work site to test the functionality of the installation equipment and techniques planned for final disposal. Information on using the new installation equipment will be gathered above ground before the installation of the bentonite buffer and the canister is tested in actual conditions inside ONKALO. The plan is to commission the aboveground test hall in February 2014.

"The test hall is a necessary preliminary stage before conducting the tests in ONKALO, because the equipment Posiva has ordered for installing the bentonite buffer and the canister are prototypes that have not been used before. We want to ensure that the equipment works before we move the massive equipment into the confined tunnel facilities of ONKALO," says Tiina Jalonen, Senior Vice President, Development, Posiva Oy. The intention is to conduct installation tests in the test tunnels excavated at a depth of over 400 metres late next year. Currently, these test tunnels are being excavated in these demonstration facilities for a plug test. According to the plan, the final disposal tunnels will be sealed with a reinforced concrete plug.

In addition to testing the final disposal techniques, Posiva is preparing for the construction of an above-ground encapsulation plant and an underground final repository. In November, the company started a recruiting campaign to hire over 20 experts to work on the plant projects, the research and development of the final disposal and on safety-related tasks. "Posiva is aiming to begin the construction of the facility in 2015, which means that we should start recruiting people right now," says Erkki Palonen, Senior Vice President, Project at Posiva.

Posiva has prepared for the growth of its organisation by expanding its office facilities at the ONKALO work site. The construction of the encapsulation plant that begins in a few years will affect the access to the area. "We will build a new road to ONKALO because the encapsulation plant will be built on the site of the current road," says Erkki Palonen.

The next large construction phase in ONKALO's underground construction work is the raise-boring of the last section of the personnel shaft and the inlet air shaft. Following that, ONKALO's ventilation can be directed through the inlet and exhaust air shafts and the construction work required by the personnel lift can be started in the personnel shaft.

Approximately a year ago, Posiva submitted the construction licence application for the disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel to the Government. The application included extensive documentation related to the implementation and safety of disposal. The material will be evaluated by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

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