Finland to build world's first permanent nuke waste facility

November 12, 2015
Finland has approved construction of the world's first nuclear waste repository, near the Olkiluoto nuclear power station
Finland has approved construction of the world's first nuclear waste repository, near the Olkiluoto nuclear power station

Finland's government gave the green light Thursday for the construction of the world's first permanent repository designed to store nuclear waste for 100,000 years.

"The government granted Posiva Ltd a licence to construct a spent nuclear fuel encapsulation plant and disposal facility at Olkiluoto," it said in a statement.

The underground tunnels, where the radioactive high-level nuclear waste is to be buried, already go down to a depth of between 400 and 450 metres (1,300-1,480 feet) near the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Eurajoki in western Finland.

The tunnels have already been constructed to study and verify the solidity of the area's rockbed where the waste is to be housed for around 100,000 years before its level of radioactivity begins to dissipate.

"This is the world's first authorisation for the final repository of used ," Finland's Economy Minister Olli Rehn said at a press conference.

A similar project is under way in neighbouring Sweden where a final decision on the construction hasn't yet been made.

The storage method consists of encapsulating the spent fuel in copper-coated containers, placing them deep underground in a hole in the rock which is then sealed with a buffer of bentonite clay, a volcanic ash that swells when mixed with water.

Some experts have warned that a new glacial period could extend a permafrost as deep underground as 800 metres (2,600 feet) but Posiva's representatives said the plan is to monitor and, if necessary, to move the encapsulated waste.

Underground tunnels near Olkiluoto already reach 400-450 metres below ground
Underground tunnels near Olkiluoto already reach 400-450 metres below ground

"Finland's radiation safety centre has assessed the method," said Rehn.

The cost for the repository's entire life cycle, up to 100,000 years, is estimated at 3.5 billion euros.

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3.9 / 5 (14) Nov 12, 2015
Well, I am absolutely sure it will not leak like the others.

And who cares when it does? We will all be dead by then, and our kids can take care of the disasters we dumped on them.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2015
And who cares when it does?

That depends on how much, when, and what. The worst bit of the waste will be gone in about a 1000 years.

And it will leak. Demanding a nuclear waste disposal to be completely hermetically shut and sealed is a false demand.

Again, the question is just "So what?", because you're not going to see a barrel of nuclear waste pop up from someone's flower bed as if by magic, or teenage mutant ninja turtles crawling out of the sewers because they ate some green glowy stuff down there.

You're going to see a wisp of radon coming out from some crack in a rock and a few atoms of uranium in the ground water, which is what already happens anyways because there's "nuclear waste" already in the ground by nature.

1 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2015
See, everybody? Eikka says nuclear waste is no big deal. I want him to tell that to the folk who live near WIPP and Hanford.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2015
See, everybody? Eikka says nuclear waste is no big deal. I want him to tell that to the folk who live near WIPP and Hanford.

As if that was remotely the same thing.

Hanford is the US nuclear weapons program site and full of leftovers from plutonium production. 2/3 of US nuclear waste in fact. The place is a dump and already leaking everywhere.

You're essentially complaining that we shouldn't put nuclear waste down mines because there's nuclear waste on the ground in Hanford. So where do you put it then? Leave it there?

5 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2015
Eikka says nuclear waste is no big deal.

The point is that it's the dose that makes the poison. There's cyanide in apples, you know.

The EPA has very clear limits as to what amount of release is permissible over time from the final deposit. Even WIPP will be no big deal as long as they don't blow any more barrels and finally seal the thing up.

You know what the problem was? They put in organic kitty litter to top off some waste barrels, and the kitty litter started to break down and produce gas, which popped the lids. Some radioactive material was released. They replaced the kitty litter with the non-organic version (clay) and sealed the barrels again.

The thing is, final deposit sites like Onkalo or WIPP are built with the idea that the barrels will eventually leak anyways. Fearmongers like you spin this as if there's underground rivers of plutionium coming out once that happens.

1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2015
No, Eikka, these materials can still be exothermic. I suggest you read about what happened at WIPP, as I did, and I will show you how to see all the meetings about it on Red Rocket, so you can watch them and get the real story.

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