An experiment currently underway in Greenland is trying to learn about the effect of glaciers on bedrock. This project has been organised and funded by global nuclear power companies who are planning to create a final storage facility for their radioactive nuclear waste hundreds of metres underground in bedrock caverns.
SIKUnews reports that Posiva Oy is Finland’s sponsor in the project. The nuclear power company has already begun work on its subterranean waste repository at Olkiluoto. This final destination for radioactive waste will hopefully be able to safely overcome any natural challenges to the site over the next 100,000 years. The company hopes to have it ready for operation by 2020.
Climate experts are predicting that Earth’s next Ice Age could begin in Finland around 6,000 years from now. The experiment in Greenland is testing the effects of melting water from glaciers on the underlying bedrock.
Professor Matti Saarnisto, the former director of research for the Geological Survey of Finland, is one of the most critical voices of the planned storage facility at Olkiluoto. He claims the planners have greatly underestimated the effects of permafrost melting on the underground site.
“Permafrost will cause massive variations in pressure around the nuclear waste repository, and that contains the seeds of disaster,” Saarnisto told YLE. “The matter of fact is that to some extent all of the research institutes involved are suffering from a hostage syndrome. They see it as essential that spent fuel be disposed of at Olkiluoto, because it has been planned that way for decades. There is no scientific basis for it,” says Saarnisto.
However, Posiva Oy feels the study in Greenland will prove that any future Ice Age will not pose a threat to the disposal facility at Olkiluoto.