Three municipalities interested in hosting nuclear power plant

Einar Vallbaum.
Einar Vallbaum. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Three municipalities have expressed interested in a nuclear power plant being built in their districts but what to do with the waste product from the plant could become a more important discussion, community leaders believe.

Currently, the most advanced plan to build a nuclear power plant is Fermi Energia's who want to build near Kunda in Viru-Nigula, Lääne-Viru County. 

Kalev Kallemets, member of the board of Fermi Energia, said in addition to Viru-Nigula Municipality, two others have expressed interest in the nuclear power plant, but their names were not ready to be publically announced by the developer.

Einar Vallbaum, Mayor of Viru-Nigula Municipality, said it makes sense to be open to developments that could benefit Estonia's future development.

He said: "Many people are afraid and wondering why I want this in my garden, but first of all, we have to talk and communicate, and then it will be decided whether or not it will come here, because [so far] the state has not made a decision on the nuclear power plant, and the Estonian government has not made any decisions. We are just talking, but when the state makes a decision, [plans] can start to become more concrete."

Viru-Nigula (area in red) on the north coast of Estonia would like to see Fermi Energia's molten salt reactor built on its territory. Source: OpenStreetMaps/Wikimedia

However, during a meeting with leaders of Lääne-Viru County municipalities, it was expressed that the topic of nuclear waste disposal could become more heated than the location of the plant.

Mihkel Juhkami, Chairman of Rakvere City Council said: "When people discuss this issue, it is normal to ask what the waste product of the production process is, and we have not got a very clear answer to this question. I am afraid that in Estonia it is easier to find a place to build a small or large nuclear plant. It is probably much more difficult to negotiate where the waste will eventually be buried."

Kallemets said the process of building a modular nuclear power plant is still in its infancy and will not be built in Estonia for at least a decade. Fermi Energia considers small-reactors, such as those under construction in Canada and the US, as suitable for Estonia. The construction cost of which is approximately €900 million.

"It is expected that the various small-module reactors will undergo the licensing process between 2022-2024. After that, they are expected to be built and constructed by various reactor developers between 2026-2028. After they have been completed and can be verified to work, only then will we make the final decision about technology and apply for a building permit in Estonia," said Kallemets.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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