Site suitability and stability of a rock mass for a nuclear waste repository

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‘Why Finland now leads the world in nuclear waste storage; - other nations hope to learn from approval of the world’s first deep repository for spent nuclear fuel’ states Elizabeth Gibney in Nature News, 02 December 2015. Today the share of the world’s electricity generated by nuclear power plants is more than 10%. Spent nuclear fuel is highly radioactive, and it poses a risk to society very long term. We need reliable knowledge of the geological and engineered environment of the repository.
The Finnish government approved the construction of such a repository to Olkiluoto, Finland. Posiva Oy is in charge of its design and construction, while the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) represents the Finnish government in permitting the site. The permission for construction was based on decades of research into the long-term safety of stored nuclear waste.
Aalto University has focused on the long-term behavior of rock, swelling clay, and cementitious materials and provided knowledge for a safety assessment, which is the base tool for authorization. Our research has addressed questions related to highly and low-intermediate level radioactive waste.
The emphasis in this Case Study is on recent research related to rock mass behavior around the canister holes for storing highly radioactive waste. The construction and disposal of the spent nuclear fuel will last over one hundred years. Besides the construction license and the immediate effects of construction, our research has affected the design of the repository and regulations. The societal impact in terms of health and safety will continue for future generations for hundreds and thousands of years.
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