ENR reports that a nuclear waste repository for spent nuclear fuel in Sweden could begin construction as early as 2016. The facility would consist of 50km of tunnels in granite bedrock up to 500-m deep. The proposed site is approximately 75-km north of Stockholm. The projected cost of the facility is $2.5 billion to $3.2 billion (US$ I presume). The Swedes would be chasing the Finns who might be the first country to have a permanent underground nuclear waste repository for spent nuclear fuel. (Illustration by BBC of Finland’s proposed repository)
As the U.S. continues to fight over hurdles for its Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste repository, Finland is on track to become the first country with a permanent storage facility for spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors. Their Onkalo tunnel, on the western coast of Finland will eventually stretch for 5-km (2-miles) and reach a depth of 500-m (1,600-ft) in solid granite bedrock. Once at depth a grid of horizontal tunnels will be constructed. Vertical storage holes will be excavated in these horizontal shafts, and the spent rods, encased in steel cannisters with copper corrosion protection, will be placed on layers of bentonite clay. The clay will cushion the cannisters and protect them against long term geologic movement. The clay also serves as a barrier to water, swelling in its presence to seal off any cracks or conduits for water that could potentially transport nuclear contamination in the distant future if the primary measures of protection are compromised. The tunnels will eventually be backfilled with bentonite and rock. The facility is projected to open in approximately 15 years at a cost of about 3 billion euros. The projected life of the facility is through 2100. Links after the break. (Illustration by BBC)
Thanks to Harold at the Ontario-geofish blog, I came accross this AP article that releases the first Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository cost estimate update since 2001. The US DOE now puts the cost of the facility at $90 billion, up $32 billion from that 2001 estimate. Of course that estimate is slightly deceptive. It covers the $9 billion already spent and 100 years of operation. Perhaps the bigger issue is funding has not been secured largely in part to the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-NV). If a steady stream of money can be secured, the best case scenario for the facility is a 2020 opening.
I also found a neat blog called Yucca Facts that has a refreshing perspective on the facility that is pro-science if not necessarily pro-Yucca. They also have a commentary about this latest DOE announcement and some commentary on Senator Reid.