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In our previous articles on nuclear waste management, Finland was mentioned at the country taking the lead in finding permanent solution to nuclear waste management.


Till date nuclear applications has improved lives globally and still helping in combating climate change. In some countries, nuclear power represents a significant percentage of their energy mix. Just like any other industry, nuclear applications also has its related waste.


Finland has taken the initiative to build the first long term repository that will house nuclear waste for 100,000 years to come. A site in Finland is set to use a labyrinth of underground tunnels for the storage of nuclear waste, which could become a template for the rest of the world to follow.


Olkiluoto Island, Finland, is the proposed site for this long term plan. If all goes as planned, in a couple of years, the first group of 3000 sealed canisters containing two tons of spent fuel, each of about 17 feet in length from the nuclear power plants in the country, will be lowered into a vertical borehole in a side tunnel underground.


The spent nuclear fuel from power plants will be placed in the double-walled canisters with the inner part of the canister made of cast iron. This design takes the mechanical stress caused by the bedrock.

The outer part of the canisters will be made of copper which will protect the cast iron and spent fuel rods from corrosion.



Long-Term Parking 
for Radioactive Waste (Source: Posivia)

The canisters will be installed in approximately 19-26ft deep shafts within the bedrock at a depth of approximately 1400ft below the ground.

The Canisters will be surrounded by bentonite clay which will act as another protective barrier from nuclear waste leakage, while also reducing mechanical stress on canisters caused by the bedrock.

Finally, after the installation of the canisters, the tunnels will be backfilled with clay blocks and pellets. The entire cavern and shafts will also be backfilled in phases to block human entry as well as surface water.




Storing the fuel

There has been discussion on marking the site to warn future generation about the danger associated with the abandoned site. Among the suggestions was the idea of creating a deterrent landscape that is “non-natural, ominous and repulsive,” made of giant, menacing earthworks in the shape of lightning bolts, or giant shapes that “suggest danger to the body… wounding forms, like thorns and spikes”. Anybody going further into the complex would then discover another series of stone kiosks and standing stones with information about the nuclear waste written in many different languages and levels of complexity, and accompanied by basic pictograms. Also, to help convey the message, there would be carvings of human faces expressing horror and terror. However some also suggested that marked places often draw curious visitors, so it better to leave the site without warning signs. This is a possible solution for Onkalo, although no plans have been made.


Finland has set the trend for the rest of the world to follow with respect high level waste disposal. So far the project seem successful and it’s expected to receive some deposits in 2023.


Writer: Yvonne Sefakor Dzovor
Editor: Priscilla Oforiwaa
Designers: Zhang Jing & Zhang Chao
Translation : Zhang Chao

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