The environmental impact of the expansion of the final repository for spent nuclear fuel has been assessed - Posiva has today submitted the EIA report to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy

Posiva Oy, a company responsible for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel of Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (“TVO”) and Fortum Power and Heat Oy (“Fortum”), has today submitted its environmental impact assessment report to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The environmental impact assessment concerns the expansion of the repository’s capacity for spent nuclear fuel planned in Olkiluoto by 3,000 tons of uranium so that the repository will have space for 12,000 uranium-tons of spent nuclear fuel instead of the previous 9,000 tons of uranium. Posiva is thus preparing in its plans for expanding the final repository for the spent nuclear fuel from Fortum’s possible Loviisa 3 nuclear power plant unit. The final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel concerning the expansion will be started in the 2070s at the earliest if Loviisa 3 unit is commissioned at the end of the 2010s.

The EIA procedure for the expansion of the repository was launched last May when Posiva submitted the environmental impact assessment programme to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The Ministry issued its statement on Posiva’s EIA programme in August, after which the EIA report has been revised according to the viewpoints presented in the statement. “The assessment report has inspected environmental impact in situations where a volume of 6,000, 9,000 and 12,000 uranium-tons of spent nuclear fuel was disposed of in the repository,” says Markku Friberg, EIA Project Manager at Posiva.

The expansion will have an impact on the volume of rock waste and the operational period

Posivas disposal solution is based on the isolation of the spent nuclear fuel deep into the bedrock.The EIA report has described and assessed environmental impacts taking place during the construction and operations of the repository, as well as impacts occurring after its closing. ”The impact of the expansion on aboveground construction work will be minor because the planned encapsulation plant can also process spent nuclear fuel from any new units,” confirms Eero Patrakka, President of Posiva.

On the basis of the environmental impact assessment, an increase in the volume of fuel will not have a significant impact on the safety of the repository. According to safety assessments, the most probable situation is that radioactive substances will not be released from canisters in millions of years.

EIA is a part of the nuclear facility licensing procedure

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy which acts as the coordinating authority in the EIA procedure will set the EIA report on public display for statements and opinions. Posiva estimates the EIA procedure to be completed in March 2009. If Posiva applies for a decision-in-principle for the expansion of 12,000 tons of uranium, the EIA report will be enclosed with the decision-in-principle application.

The construction permit application for the repository for spent nuclear fuel is to be submitted to the Government in 2012. The final disposal of spent nuclear fuel is to be started in 2020.

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