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The nuclear waste problem “solved”


Probably the most essential part of the “preparation work” done by the nuclear lobby in late 1990s in order to get a political approval for building more nuclear power to Finland was the work around the decision-in-principle regarding the deep repository of spent nuclear fuel.

At the time the decision was being made, during spring 2001, the members of parliament were assured that decision-in-principle would only be a testing permit, giving the nuclear companies the permit to make further location specific research in the bedrock Olkiluoto. The decision would not give an approval to building of the actual repository – neither would it prove that the plan was safe and just waited to be implemented. Only three MPs saw this as a problematic strategy and voted against it, and against the order of their parties.

However, after the decision on the waste repository was made and the lobbying for the fifth reactor got in full speed, the fears of many nuclear critics became true. The nuclear lobby turned the research permit into a ‘solution’. According to them, the political decision meant that the nuclear waste problem was now solved. In reality, this is of course far from the truth.

The company responsible for the nuclear waste management, Posiva, will apply for the construction permit for the facility in 2012 at the earliest. During that time they will have to prove that burying nuclear waste is safe. It is only then that the government will decide whether they’ll give the permit or not. If they decide to give the permit, Posiva still needs a permit to operate the facility, which it would be able to apply sometime after 2020. This is the time when the final analysis and decisions on the plan for deep repository in Finland will be made.
The research project of Posiva is also under international critique. The international review group commissioned by STUK concluded in 2001 and 2004 that Posiva is not paying enough attention to the challenges in research work and is going forward with too much haste. The review group demanded a realistic timetable for safety research. It pointed out that now Posiva plans to apply for construction permit even before safety research programme has ended.

18.10.2006 How “solved” is the issue of high-level nuclear waste in Finland?
Finland is often claimed to have a solution for the high-level nuclear waste. It has also been highlighted as a country where the nuclear waste programme and the “solution” has a wide support from the public. But what’s the real story behind these claims? How solved is the issue of high-level nuclear waste in Finland? >>

3.09.2004 The plan for the final waste disposal in Finland
There are lot of problems involved in the plans to bury nuclear waste. It can work, provided conditions in the plant and the bedrock stay the way Posiva has assumed for hundreds of thousands of years. But will they? >>

18.10.2006 History of the political agreement
Finland has a political, principle agreement on what to do with the high level nuclear waste. However, the decision-in-principle approved by the parliament in 2001, is literally a principle decision on how to more forward with the waste plan. It allowes the nuclear waste company Posiva to do site specific studies in Olkiluoto. However, whether the plan is safe enough or not will only be evaluated in the later phases, if Posiva applies for a construction permit for the final disposal facility (on 2012 at the earliest) and later on for an operational permit. >>