Finnish Saanio & Riekkola’s (S&R) expertise helps enable the approval of the construction of the world’s first permanent spent nuclear fuel repository

Upon the approval of the construction license for the spent nuclear fuel repository at Olkiluoto November 12th 2015, Finland is now the most advanced country in the world in spent nuclear fuel repository planning and implementation. “Finland’s parliamentary decision confirms the commitment to a world leading nuclear waste management programme. It also says something about the values of this Nordic state which other nuclear powered countries will now keenly observe”, says Mr. Fionán O’Carroll, Project Manager for International Operations at Saanio & Riekkola (S&R).

ONKALO, the underground rock characterisation facility situated at Olkiluoto, Finland, will be a part of the first spent nuclear fuel repository worldwide. The application for the Olkiluoto construction license was submitted on December 28th, 2012 by Posiva, the organisation responsible for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel in Finland. If the project continues to progress according to schedule, the disposal operations at Olkiluoto will begin in early 2020’s and the final closure of the facility will be in the 2120’s. The total estimated cost of the project is 3.3 billion euros.

Spent nuclear fuel will remain radioactive and harmful for over 100,000 years and so a primary task of the project was to conduct extensive planning and safety analysis. This way the safety of humans and the environment could be ensured for thousands of generations to come. S&R became involved in the early stages of the project in the 1980’s providing expertise on site selection, rock engineering, layout-design and cost estimates for the project and in the 2000´s providing the expertise in long-term safety and production of the safety case for the construction license application. After several decades of design planning and long-term safety analysis, S&R is proud to see the deep geological repository project advance to the next level.

According to the Finnish legislation and regulations, the responsibility for waste management and decommissioning of nuclear power plants is with the waste generators themselves. In 1988, a fund was established for collecting nuclear waste management costs under the Nuclear Energy Act. Waste generators pay into this fund annually according to the fund target. There is no set fee per kWh like in other countries, rather, the fund is being recalculated systematically every year based on the liability of waste producers.

In Finland, spent nuclear fuel is currently being stored in spent fuel pools. In the future as the project progresses the spent nuclear fuel will be disposed in the deep geological repository. The spent nuclear fuel will be encapsulated and deposited deep in the bedrock of Olkiluoto and the repository will be backfilled.

Finland’s nuclear waste management programme is now the most advanced in the world. The safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel is highly important since nuclear power will be central to future global energy needs. “Nuclear new build countries and those still developing nuclear regulations stand to benefit hugely from following the Finnish example. Creating a national nuclear waste management programme is a long term commitment”, O’Carroll adds.

For additional information please contact:

Fionán O´Carroll, Project Manager, International Operations

Tel. +358 44 275 1851, e-mail:

Anssi Auvinen, Director, International Operations

Tel. +358 40 758 5545, e-mail:

About S&R

Saanio & Riekkola Oy is the world leading specialist in the most demanding nuclear waste management projects. We work on both low and intermediate level waste and spent nuclear fuel projects globally and have actively assisted Finland’s nuclear waste management program since 1979.

Our clients require secure long-term nuclear waste management solutions. We apply a cross-scientific approach to ensure international safety and environmental standards in our solutions.

Based in Helsinki, Finland, we have worked on multiple projects domestically as well as internationally. Our net sales in 2015 was 10 mEUR and currently we employ 90 experts.

S&R is part of A-Insinöörit Group – a skilled, growing and internationally operating professional in construction management and design. A-Insinöörit solves the customers' most challenging problems with 600 skilled professionals. Visit the A-Insinöörit webpage to learn more about the services.