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Opinion

Finnish expertise the key to global solutions for spent nuclear fuel storage

According to Timo Saanio, Finland has a tested and researched solution.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear reactor sites all over the world are still without a safe long-term storage option. On 20 August 2017, Last Week Tonight stated that, in the US alone, the amount of spent nuclear fuel sitting in nuclear power plants is a whopping 71 000 tonnes. What makes the situation disconcerting is that the US officials or private sector have no clear long-term plan on the safe storage of spent nuclear waste.

In late 2015, Finland became the first country to receive a construction licence for a spent nuclear fuel disposal facility. While the rest of the world is still wrestling with the issue, Finland has tackled the challenge, with the ONKALO disposal facility in Olkiluoto ready to accommodate spent nuclear fuel starting from the early 2020s. This state-of-the-art repository is the result of four decades of geological investigations, design efforts and long-term safety case work.

Finnish experts have gained extensive knowledge in all aspects of the highly complicated project. The drivers behind Finland’s exceptional readiness to solve the issue are the exact same factors that remain unsolved in many other countries: systematic long-term development work ever since the early 1980s, as well as stability and consistency of political will and policy making.

The world is in dire need of a tested and researched solution – and we have one to offer. The next step for us Finns is to combine the efforts of the public sector and the private operators, and to turn our expertise in nuclear waste management into an unparalleled export item. By doing so, we would make a valuable contribution to the safety of the entire world.

The solution exists. Now we just need the world to utilise it.

Published on 21.09.2017