On June 17th, the Government of Finland granted VTT a licence to decommission the FiR 1 research reactor located in Otaniemi, Espoo. The research reactor operated in 1962–2015, and it is the first nuclear facility to undergo decommissioning in Finland. Decommissioning will be implemented by Fortum Power and Heat Oy. Dismantling starts at the end of 2022 and takes about one year. After decommissioning, VTT will return the reactor building to its owner Aalto University.
Presently, VTT is preparing the reactor site for the decommissioning phase, e.g. by dismantling the radiotherapy facility that operated in connection to the reactor. In parallel, VTT and Fortum will finalize dismantling plans, which will be submitted for review to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK early 2022. After completing the review, STUK will issue the permission to start the dismantling of the radioactive components and structures of the reactor.
The low and intermediate level wastes from the operation and decommissioning of the reactor are planned to be transported to Fortum’s Loviisa NPP for storage and disposal. The irradiated nuclear fuel was transferred in January for further use in the United States, where it is also disposed of after use. Therefore, no high-level waste remains at the reactor site anymore.
The FiR 1 reactor, commissioned in 1962, had a colourful service life and supported the research of moon rocks, gold exploration, cancer treatments and, above all, served as a key training and research facility for nuclear energy. Even during its dismantling phase, the research reactor will bring valuable experience to the decommissioning of Finnish nuclear power plants in the coming decades.
Globally, decommissioning is already topical following the decision of several countries to phase out nuclear energy. VTT has brought together the expertise of several Finnish companies in a separate dECOmm project aiming at the international nuclear power plant decommissioning market.
Read more about the project.