Nuclear power plants produce electricity using uranium as fuel. The energy in uranium is in a tightly compressed format, so the amount of spent fuel is small. Spent nuclear fuel is radioactive. Therefore, it must be kept isolated until its radioactivity has decreased to a harmless level. This isolation is called final disposal.
According to Finnish legislation, nuclear waste generated in Finland must be finally disposed of in Finland, and the power plant companies are responsible for their respective nuclear waste management. Swedish legislation is similar in regard to responsibilities. The final disposal solutions for the nuclear waste of the Loviisa nuclear power plant and Fortum's co-owned nuclear power plants in Finland and Sweden are among the leading solutions in the world.
Waste created in nuclear power plant operations is governed by either regular (non-radioactive) or radioactive waste management rules. Regular waste is the waste created in a typical work environment, in goods transport, office tasks and cafeteria operations, for example. Radioactive waste is classified as either low-level, intermediate-level or high-level waste, based on how it was created, its original purpose and radioactivity level. At Fortum's Loviisa nuclear power plant, low-level and intermediate-level waste are finally disposed of in a 110-metre-deep cave that has been excavated in the Hästholmen bedrock in Loviisa.
Posiva, founded and owned by Fortum and another Finnish nuclear operator, TVO, takes care of the final nuclear waste disposal of their nuclear power plants. The plan is to dispose of high-level nuclear waste in the final repository of Posiva in Olkiluoto, in the municipality of Eurajoki. The final repository and related encapsulation unit are expected to be ready for use in 2020.
The Finnish Government granted in November 2015 a licence to Posiva for the construction of a final disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel. After extensive and multidisciplinary research and development work, Posiva can now proceed with construction of the final disposal facility in Olkiluoto according to the concept it has developed. The final disposal of the spent fuel generated in the Olkiluoto and Loviisa nuclear power plants into the Finnish bedrock is planned to start in the early 2020s.
SKB (Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB) is responsible for managing the waste created by Fortum's co-owned nuclear power production in Sweden. A final repository for spent nuclear fuel is being built in Forsmark, in the municipality of Östhammar. The plan is to complete the construction by the end of this decade. After construction and the pilot period, final disposal can begin at the end of the next decade.