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02.02.2007 12:00

Posivas research and development programme strives towards the indication of final disposal safety

The spent nuclear fuel-related final disposal research and development work has proceeded to a new programme stage. Posiva has the intention to present the first general description of the data for the evaluation of the authorities by the year 2009. On this basis, the construction permit for final disposal at Olkiluoto in Eurajoki shall be applied for. Currently, during the three-year research and development programme set into motion, Posiva shall specify on a sufficiently detailed level the operations particular to the final disposal concept in accordance with the requirements demanded by long-term safety under the bedrock conditions found at Olkiluoto.

From the perspective of long-term safety, it is essential that the technical emission barriers used in final disposal - the copper canister and surrounding bentonite clay in addition to the filler material in the tunnels - function predictably under Olkiluoto's bedrock conditions. "In practice, Posiva's research and development work should specify the operational capacity goals for technical emission barriers during presumed but also improbable chains of events," declares Eero Patrakka, Posiva's CEO. In the research programme, the ensuing development of Olkiluoto's bedrock will be assessed as specific to over 100,000 years from now, with respect to which the operational capacity goals for emission barriers are also to be set.

Indicating the operational capacity of technical emission barriers pertains to the safety cases of final disposal, which are made up of ten separate reports. Among other things, the characteristics required of the final disposal rock are defined in these as well as bedrock- and biosphere-related presumed and unlikely developments, together with the future development of the final disposal site. The final disposal safety cases should be annexed to the construction permit application to be submitted in the year 2012 for the final disposal facility. The intermediate report concerning safety is to be presented to the authorities in 2009.

Posiva's research, development and planning work programme for spent nuclear fuel prepared for the years 2007-2009 was under review at the international specialists' seminar in Helsinki on Monday, 21 January. At this meeting, the current situation and future challenges of the final disposal project for spent nuclear fuel were examined.

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