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Nuclear Waste Planned To Be Buried Deep Underground For 100,000 Years By Finland


Nuclear Waste Planned To Be Buried Deep Underground For 100,000 Years By Finland
In a step that could become a template for other countries to follow, a site in Finland is being prepared and is set to be used as a labyrinth of underground tunnels for the storage of nuclear waste.
Finland is home to four nuclear reactors which provide almost 30 percent of its electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association.
And set to be Finland's fifth nuclear energy project is the Olkiluoto 3 project. Regular production at the unit is set to begin at the end of 2018, energy company Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) says. About 1,600 megawatts (MW) will be the net electrical output of the unit.
"One important change with Olkiluoto 3 is that it is big," TVO's Juha Poikola told CNBC's "Sustainable Energy". "Currently, the biggest power plant in the world is about 1,500 megawatts and this is 1,600, so the size is big … the dimensions are big," Poikola added.
Finland will have taken a "long leap towards self-sufficiency in electricity production" once OL3 is complete, TVO says.
Looking deep into the ground and far ahead into the future is the aspect of the plans for the storage of spent fuel in Finland.
"For operational waste, like low and intermediate waste, we have a repository, an underground repository (at a)… depth of 60 meters in the bedrock," TVO's Anne Niemi said.
"And for spent fuel we have interim storage, waterproof storaging and a new underground repository for spent fuel is built in Olkiluoto (at)… the depth of 400 to 450 meters," Niemi added.
the potential impact of earthquakes and even future ice ages have been taken into account in the design of the storage facility. In addition, to store spent fuel in bedrock for at least 100,000 years, huge disposal canisters with copper exteriors have been especially designed.
The director general of the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency is William D. Magwood IV. What was happening in Finland was "really a mark for others to follow. They've made a lot of progress, and Finland will very likely have the world's first operating nuclear waste repository", he told "Sustainable Energy".
On the other hand, OL3 is now close to being operational back above ground. "Olkiluoto 3 is now in (the) commission phase," Poikola said. "Commissioning a nuclear power plant includes several stages and … We just passed one stage, which was a pressure test," he added.
"We tested that the primary circuit – a very important part of the power plant – is tight. There (were)… no leakages in the pressure test, so it's just one step towards commissioning." There were still many things to be done before electricity production started, he added.