VTT and Fortum have signed a letter of intent on cooperation in the decommissioning of the FIR 1 research reactor and the nuclear power plant structural materials research laboratory. In addition to cooperation over dismantling and waste handling, the companies will investigate possibilities for interim storage and final disposal of the decommissioning waste at the Loviisa nuclear power plant site.
The cooperation will make Fortum's long experience in nuclear power plant operation and nuclear waste management available to VTT.
VTT applied to the Government in 2017 for permission to decommission the reactor. The spent nuclear fuel must be removed from the facility before the reactor is dismantled. VTT primarily intends to repatriate the fuel to its country of origin, the United States. The secondary alternative is deep geological disposal in Olkiluoto, Eurajoki, after interim storage. The actual demolition phase will begin in 2021 at the earliest. Preparations have been made for the decommissioning of the laboratory, which will begin in 2019.
VTT will continue its support to Finnish and foreign nuclear operators for safe and economical use of power plants, by testing structural materials in the modern radiological laboratories at the Centre for Nuclear Safety.
The reactor was in operation between 1962 and 2015. During its eventful history, it has assisted in the study of rocks from the moon, gold prospecting, cancer treatments and has acted as a key nuclear power educational and research facility. The research reactor will continue to serve as a pilot during the decommissioning phase, preparing the entire Finnish nuclear power sector for the forthcoming decommissioning of power plant reactors.