File photo of work at the Onkalo repository in Finland. Courtesy Posiva. Nuclear regulator Stuk has notified authorities in other countries that Finland intends to begin the final disposal of used nuclear fuel in the mid-2020s.

Stuk said it had notified countries that have supplied Finland with uranium for its nuclear power plants.

Stuk said normal verification inspections of nuclear materials cannot be performed once the materials have been finally disposed of, and so procedures related to inspections must be specified before final disposal begins.

Since Finland started up its first nuclear power reactors in the early 1970s, it has mainly sourced uranium from Russia, Australia, Canada and the US. Stuk maintains a national database of nuclear materials and oversees nuclear safeguards in Finland. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Commission control Finnish operations to ensure that they comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Nuclear safeguards dictate that nuclear materials must be physically verifiable, but this cannot be done once it is deposited in a geological repository. This means all verification measures must be carried out before final disposal, Stuk said. “By notifying the countries supplying uranium fuel, as well as the IAEA and the European Commission, Stuk ensures that all parties remain assured that the uranium delivered to Finland continues to be used for peaceful purposes.”

Posiva Oy, the nuclear waste management company in charge of nuclear waste management in Finland, is constructing the Onkalo underground final disposal facility for used nuclear fuelalo. Used nuclear fuel will be placed in the bedrock, at a depth of approximately 450 metres.

In November 2015 Posiva was granted a licence by the government for the construction of the facility. At the time Posiva said the final disposal of spent fuel was expected to start in the early 2020s.

The company has estimated the total cost of final disposal is at €3bn, with the long service life of the facility contributing most to that figure.

Date: Saturday, 07 November 2020
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