Perhaps the most difficult question for proponents on Nuclear Power to answer is the question “What are you going to do with the high level nuclear waste?”. Its’ a simple question and the answers are – in principle – quite simple. Eventually high level nuclear waste has to be encapsulated ‘in some way’ and then put ‘somewhere’. All the problems and challenges arise when one considers specific answers to specify exactly ‘which way’ and exactly ‘where’. In the UK we seem have invested a large amount of money on putting off facing this challenge for as long as possible. In Finland it seems they are facing up to the challenge – and the costs – now. And the plans look impressive.
The Finnish waste storage facility is called Onkalo. The company building the site (Posiva) has several animations and presentations on its web site (links below) and overall it looks to me to be a rational way to solve this problem. They say the cost will be around 3 billion Euro which is around half of the cost of a 1 GWe nuclear power plant. It’s hard to find this kind of serious activity amusing but I was struck by exactly how much the activity looks like the reverse of coal mining! In a very characteristically Finnish move, they have made a very moody movie called Into Eternity which has just been released. It got a good review in the Telegraph and the Guardian who were both impressed by the profound questions asked by the film.
- Link to main Onkalo site
- Link presentation
- Link to animation on final disposal
- Link to trailer for film Into Eternity (Amazon.co.uk page for DVD)
In contrast to Finland (with 4 nuclear reactors on 2 sites), the UK (19 nuclear reactors on 9 sites) has made almost no progress. There have been numerous proposals and false starts, but there is an utter lack of political leadership in this area. Hopefully we will be inspired by the rationality of Finnish programme. But I doubt it.
Dear Reader: If you have any details on the current state of UK proposals would be very welcome.