Day 25 review:

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission today focused on high level waste storage and disposal – Topic 16.

Electricity generation from nuclear fuels results in highly radioactive spent fuel which needs to be carefully managed. This public session explored the current and proposed approaches to this waste.

The first witness was Dr Thomas Cochran, retired former director from the Natural Resources Defense Council, USA. The NRDC is a large environmental action group based in the US. It liaises with businesses, policy-makers and other community groups in relation to significant environmental issues, including sustainable energy generation, global warming and protecting endangered fauna and their habitats. Having retired in 2011, Thomas Cochran is a consultant to NRDC. Previously, Dr Cochran was a senior scientist at NRDC and, until 2007, was director of their Nuclear Program. He provides advice to both public and private bodies on matters including nuclear energy generation, waste and non-proliferation. Dr Cochran continues to serve as a member of the US Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and several of its subcommittees, including the Nuclear Reactor Technology Subcommittee. His evidence focused on the development of prospective fast reactor technologies and the extent to which they address the issue of high level nuclear waste.

The afternoon session involved two witnesses, with Mr Timo Äikäs, formerly of Posiva Oy, and Dr Sami Hautakangas, from Fortum. Posiva is a Finnish organisation responsible for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel from the nuclear reactors operating in that country. Since being employed by Posiva from its establishment in 1995, Timo Äikäs retired in 2014 having held the positions of Executive Vice President and Corporate Advisor. He holds tertiary qualifications in engineering geology and has worked in various aspects of geological disposal of spent nuclear fuel for almost three decades, including site selection and the design and development of the underground rock characterisation facility, disposal facility and canisters to encapsulate spent fuel. Mr Äikäs continues to provide consulting services to a range of clients.

Dr Sami Hautakangas is a Product Manager in Nuclear Expert Services at Fortum. Having commenced work at Fortum in 2007, he has held several roles including Manager, Nuclear Waste Research and Development, and Department Head, Nuclear Waste and Technology. Dr Hautakangas obtained his Doctoral in Engineering Physics from the Helsinki University of Technology in 2005. Both witnesses discussed the case study on the KBS-3 concept for deep geological disposal at Onkalo, including the approach to consent-based siting.

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

The next public session is on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, in the Commission’s office, 50 Grenfell St, Adelaide.

Click here for topic and witness list for this session which covers Topic 16 – High level waste disposal and storage (day 2).