Government wants end to nuclear waste storage dispute
Companies can be ordered to deal with waste together
The economic policy ministerial committee of the Finnish government wants an end to a dispute between two Finnish companies on the final storage of nuclear waste.
If no agreement is reached between Fennovoima, a company that has been granted a licence to build a new commercial nuclear reactor, and Posiva, a company set up by two other electric utilities, TVO and Fortum, to build a final storage facility for their own spent fuel, the government can order them to work together to deal with the nuclear waste.
“We have shown a good amount of patience. We urged the sides to examine common solutions, but now we put some speed into them”, says Minister of Economic Affairs Jyri Häkämies (Nat. Coalition Party).
The companies have argued over final storage for years.
Posiva wants to allow the final storage tunnels that it is building near the TVO nuclear reactors in Olkiluoto to be reserved solely for waste from its owners, TVO and Fortum.
Fennovoima is planning to build a new nuclear reactor in Pyhäjoki, and wants to put its waste in the Posiva tunnels at Olkiluoto.
When Parliament debated decisions that need to be made for the additional construction of nuclear generating capacity in 2010, it set as a condition that the companies conduct studies and negotiations on the final disposal of nuclear waste.
Fennovoima was told to find out if its nuclear waste could be placed in Olkiluoto, or if it needs to find a place for final storage somewhere else.
The two companies have not conducted the studies that they were asked to do.
“This is a powerful message that this study needs to be launched. There has not been progress on a voluntary basis”, Häkämies says, explaining the decision of the ministerial committee.
Posiva has said that Fennovoima’s nuclear waste will simply not fit into the new facility.
“I am aware of the view of Posiva, but in spite of this I require an impartial technical study on whether or not it would fit. Only then will we be the wiser, and only then can conclusions be drawn”, Häkämies says.
If no joint solution appears possible on the basis of the studies, the best option economically and from the point of view of safety would be for Fennovoima and Posiva to try to work together.
The proposed Fennovoima nuclear reactor in Pyhäjoki will not get a building permit if it cannot put forward these two options.
“We are expecting the building permits by the end of the year. There is certainly no time to lose, so we need to move forward without delay.”
Häkämies also points out that the reports have been called for by previous parliaments and the previous government.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Government endorses two new nuclear reactors (22.4.2010)
Dispute over disposal of nuclear waste brewing between power companies (7.10.2011)
Nuclear waste tomb soon to reach final depth (10.5.2010)