Finland Working On Plan To Keep Nuke Waste Safe For 100,000 Years
Finland is working on a safe method of keeping nuclear waste safe for at least 100,000 by bringing it 1,300 feet underground at a site in Olkiluoto island that has not moved seismically for the past 2-billion years, Alexander C. Kaufman reported for HuffPost.
Photo Insert: The Onkalo disposal facility for spent fuel being constructed in Olkiluoto, Finland.
Once finished, the project, called Onkalo, involves a robotic system and a basement network of switch-backing tunnels, and it promises to turn the page to a new chapter of nuclear energy’s turbulent 80-year story and make history for the power plant that is just a two-minute drive down the road.
Sealed twice over in bentonite clay ― which expands when wet, preventing water from seeping in and corroding the capsules, and offers stability in case of an earthquake ― this site is meant to entomb nuclear waste for as close to eternity as any human endeavor can guarantee.
The project will store waste from the decades-old nuclear power complex next door. Last month, Finland switched on Olkiluoto-3, the third and biggest generator at the power station here.
The reactor, one of the largest ever built and the first to open in Western Europe in at least 15 years, will produce about 14% of Finland’s electricity. Combined with the plant’s other two reactors, this speck of an island will provide 36% of the country’s power.
"This is a message from Finland that we have a solution to make nuclear power sustainable,” said Janne Mokka, the chief executive of Posiva Oy, the company building the storage site.
“This gives certainty on what is the question of final disposal. It has never been done.” Yet it has been tried. The United States proposed building a permanent storage site in the Nevada desert at Yucca Mountain but canceled the project a decade later under pressure from Nevada politicians and Native Americans.
France is digging its own facility, where it will store waste in clay. Sweden is working on an underground repository that mirrors Finland’s approach. Canada is also considering possible sites for its own.