Nuclear waste management
Both conventional and radioactive waste are generated in nuclear power production. The nuclear waste treatment and final disposal solutions at the Loviisa nuclear power plant and at Fortum’s co-owned nuclear power plants are at the forefront of development globally.
Conventional waste is generated at the power plant in, e.g., office work and in servicing and repairing systems that are outside the nuclear power plant’s controlled area. Work
performed within the nuclear power plant’s controlled area generates radioactive waste. Depending on the level of radioactivity of that waste, it is categorised as waste that can be released from control or as low-, intermediate- or high-level radioactive waste.
The Loviisa power plant’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is treated at the power plant and then placed in the bedrock-excavated final repository (VLJ cave) owned and used by Fortum. The space has been in use since the 1990s. The plan is to enlarge the final repository so that all low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, including decommissioning waste generated at the Loviisa power plant, can be placed there. The enlargement and the licences for it will become topical in the 2020s.
The finalising of the Loviisa nuclear power plant’s liquid waste storage and solidification plant continued in 2014. The plan is to commission the solidification plant by 2016. An analyses
update for the long-term safety of the final disposal of power plant and decommissioning waste was started in 2014. The aim is for the update to be completed in 2018.
After use, the fuel assemblies removed from the reactor are first stored inside the reactor building for a few years and then in deep water basins in an interim storage located in the plant area. The planning for Fortum and Teollisuuden Voima Oyj’s (TVO) encapsulation plant and final repository for spent fuel, to be built at Olkiluoto in Eurajoki, Finland, has advanced to the construction licence phase.
Final disposal of spent fuel
In Finland and Sweden, the producers of nuclear waste are responsible for management and final disposal of the nuclear waste and for the related costs. In Finland, nuclear waste
management principles and timetables were decided on already back in the 1980s, and the construction of waste management solutions has advanced according to plans.
The licence holders are responsible for the management of power plant waste generated during the operation of the Loviisa and Olkiluoto nuclear power plants and for the management of future decommissioning waste. The practical implementation of the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel from the companies is handled by Posiva Oy, which is co-owned by Fortum and TVO. Posiva Oy’s construction licence application for the spent nuclear fuel encapsulation plant and final disposal facility is currently under assessment by the Government and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority noted in its statement in February 2015 that the plant can be built to be safe. Preparedness to start final repository operations is estimated to be achieved around 2020.
Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) handles the final disposal of the nuclear waste generated by Fortum’s co-owned nuclear power plants in Sweden. In March 2011, the company submitted a construction licence application to build an encapsulation and final disposal plant for spent fuel; the application is still being reviewed by the authorities. The final repository for spent fuel is planned to be built at Forsmark. After construction and a test-run period, disposal operations could start in the late 2020s.