Lääne-Harju Municipality wraps radioactive waste disposal site preselection

Preselected planned location for the construction of a radioactive waste disposal site in Paldiski.
Preselected planned location for the construction of a radioactive waste disposal site in Paldiski. Source: Letter of explanation accompanying the location preselection for the designated spatial plan

Lääne-Harju municipal government has concluded preselection for a permanent disposal site for radioactive waste from Paldiski's former nuclear site, and is now awaiting approval from the relevant authorities. Deemed the most suitable location for the planned permanent disposal site is the Paldiski property already home to an interim radioactive waste storage facility.

Located on the property at Leetse tee 21 is the only building still left standing from a former Soviet nuclear submarine training center built in Paldiski in the 1960s, which houses two large nuclear sub mock-ups since encased in concrete, but also already serves as an interim storage facility for radioactive waste collected from elsewhere in Estonia as well.

This week, Lääne-Harju municipal government concluded preselection for the site of a permanent disposal site for radioactive waste currently held in interim storage, and is now awaiting approval from the relevant authorities on its bill and on the first interim report on the environmental impact assessment.

A permanent disposal site must be built to ensure the safe storage of radioactive waste currently in Paldiski for millennia to come. The safety of the current nuclear site is guaranteed through 2040, which will mark 50 years since the reactors were shut down and is considered a safe storage period.

Deputy municipal mayor Erki Ruben noted in a letter to authorities that radioactive waste disposal sites are special facilities.

"When building a permanent disposal site, it will be possible to demolish the last remaining building, chop up the [submarine] mockups, place the pieces into concrete containers and permanently store them underground, where they can safely neutralize over time," Ruben explained.

The detailed spatial plan encompasses the entirety of Lääne-Harju Municipality, as the existing interim storage facility is located in this local government for historical reasons and it has been decided at the national level that it isn't practical to move the new location to a different local government.

It was determined in the course of the detailed spatial plan process that the most suitable location for the future permanent radioactive waste disposal site is a nearly 30-hectare area of Paldiski located at Leetse tee 21 and Leetse tee 21a – on the property of the city's former nuclear site.

The other two alternatives included the villages of Pedase and Altküla, however Altküla could potentially face flood risks due to climate change. This left Paldiski and Pedase in the running, of which the former was deemed most suitable.

Three possible locations were under consideration for the possible site of a future radioactive waste disposal site. Source: ERR

This conclusion was reached taking into account the impact on wildlife, green network and biodiversity, ground- and surface water as well as several other criteria, but also the cost of the facility, public opinion and also a safety assessment.

"Based on current knowledge, the existing interim storage site on the territory of the Paldiski Training Center is suitable as a potential location, however a more detailed analysis and the consideration of various criteria will indicate whether this assumption is correct," the letter of explanation reads. "Definitive clarity will be provided by the assessment of all necessary impacts and a comparison of alternatives."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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