The long-term programme aimed at selection of a site for a deep repository was initiated in Finland in 1983. This programme has come to end and a new phase aimed at implementation of the geological disposal of spent fuel has been started. In this new phase the first milestone is the application for a construction license for the disposal facility around 2010 and thereafter, as a second step, the operation license in 2020. To fulfil the needs for detailed design of the disposal system, an underground rock characterisation facility, “ONKALO”, will be constructed at the representative depth at Olkiluoto. The excavation of this facility will start the work for underground characterisation, testing and demonstration which is planned to be a continuous activity throughout the whole life cycle of the deep repository.