"Onkalo is a game changer for the long-term sustainability of nuclear energy," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said yesterday, referring to the world’s first-ever deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel that is under construction in Olkiluoto, Finland.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi (centre) at the Onkalo facility (Image: IAEA)

Up to about 450 metres below ground level, used fuel from all of Finland’s nuclear power reactors will be isolated in Onkalo for thousands of years. The repository is based on the KBS-3 disposal concept developed by the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB), in close cooperation with Posiva Oy, the Finnish company responsible for the disposal of used nuclear fuel.

"Waste management has always been at the centre of many debates about nuclear energy and the sustainability of nuclear activity around the world. Everybody knew of the idea of a geological repository for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, but Finland did it," Grossi said.

"In Finland, the state’s energy policy, the will of the owners and skilled personnel are all in the same package," said Janne Mokka, president and CEO of Posiva Oy. "This kind of project is great to lead. Our expertise is also available to industry players around the world."

Near the repository is the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, consisting of two operating units and a third, Olkiluoto 3, which is under construction. In Olkiluoto, Grossi met president and CEO of TVO Jarmo Tanhua, with whom he discussed, in addition to Olkiluoto 3 and the Onkalo repository, nuclear safety and security, safeguards implementation and the importance of nuclear power in the fight against climate change.

“The role of low-carbon energy, such as renewable energy and nuclear power, is crucial in the battle against climate change,” Tanhua said. “Nuclear power remains a significant part of Finland’s and the entire EU’s energy mix as we move towards a carbon neutral society. Nuclear power acts as a constant energy source, which supports stable electricity production beside volatile water, wind, and solar power.”

Over 80% of the electricity produced in Finland is non-polluting, and the figure will rise with the beginning of regular electricity production at Olkiluoto 3, which is scheduled to be connected to the grid next year, and enter commercial operation in 2022, Tanhua said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 28 November 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Grossi-impressed-by-Finnish-used-fuel-repository