Premier visits Finland to inspect high level nuclear waste facility

Posted 19 September 2016

Premier Jay Weatherill is on his way to Finland to visit what will be the world’s first deep geological disposal facility for used nuclear fuel.

The Premier will meet with the operators of the ONKALO underground disposal facility, as well as Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn and senior officers of Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

Nuclear Consultation and Response Agency Chief Executive Madeline Richardson and Advisory Board Chairman John Mansfield AM QC will also accompany the Premier.

Background

ONKALO is the most advanced – and set to be the world’s first – permanent deep geological disposal facility for used nuclear fuel. It is being developed in the municipality of Eurajoki, Finland, by Posiva and is scheduled to begin operations in the early 2020s.

Posiva is the first nuclear waste management company to have been granted a construction licence for a final disposal repository for used nuclear fuel. The repository site is located near the Olkiluoto nuclear power facility.

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission visited ONKALO in June last year, gathering information to help inform its report, which was released in May. The report found that South Australia had a set of competitive advantages, which ensured that it could safely engage in the storage and disposal of international used fuel, and there would be significant financial benefits.

Quotes attributable to Premier Jay Weatherill

I want to see first-hand what a deep geological facility looks like and gain a better understanding from the Finnish experience in regards to safety, regulation and community consent.

Before Government decides the next steps, it’s important that I understand exactly what is proposed.

There were valuable lessons to be learnt from Finland’s open and transparent community engagement program, and its focus on safety and regulatory management, which were identified as key priorities by South Australia’s first Nuclear Citizens’ Jury earlier this year.

A Citizen’s Jury, to be held next month, will help the Government outline a position by the end of the year.