Safety watchdog issues warning on Finland nuclear project

(Risto Degerman / Yle)
(Risto Degerman / Yle)
Finland’s nuclear safety watchdog, STUK, says that the Fennovoima consortium does not yet have the know-how needed for the design of a safe nuclear power plant.

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) on Friday submitted its preliminary safety evaluation of the proposed Fennovoima power plant to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

STUK says that Fennovoima, which wants to build its first facility at Hanhikivi near the west-coast town of Rauma, must beef up its organisation and leadership system, as well as the security plans for the proposed plant. STUK says there must be design changes to meet Finnish safety standards to cope with potential dangers at the plant site such as an airplane crash, flooding, fire or a serious accident.

STUK Director General Petteri Tiippana says the consortium must concentrate on strengthening these areas in order to be ready for the construction permit phase. He added that the company must present STUK with comprehensive documentation on the proposed facility’s safety that is complete enough to be decided on in one step.

Avoiding Olkiluoto’s setbacks

Tiippana says the tougher demands are aimed at preventing the kinds of problems faced by the still-incomplete Olkiluoto 3. That project, by the experienced nuclear utility TVO, is far behind schedule and over budget.

The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) says that Fennovoima, which wants to build its first facility near Rauma, must beef up its organisation and leadership system, as well as the security plans for the proposed plant.

STUK Director General Petteri Tiippana says the consortium must concentrate on strengthening these areas in order to be ready for the construction permit phase. He added that the company must present STUK with comprehensive documentation on the proposed facility’s safety that is complete enough to be decided on in one step.

Tiippana says the tougher demands are aimed at preventing the kinds of problems faced by the still-incomplete Olkiluoto 3 reactor. That project, by the experienced nuclear utility TVO, is far behind schedule and over budget.

“A big, demanding job”

In Tiippana’s view, Fennovoima still has plenty of work to do in improving its management structure. He points out the deadline for the firm to file its construction permit application is just over a year away.

Tiippana says that another important demand involves instructing and guiding the planned supplier of the plant, the Russian state-owned firm Rosatom, about Finnish practices and demands regarding plant design.

“This is a big, demanding job, which requires know-how,” he told Yle.

Tiippana says that STUK is putting other companies and agencies involved on notice that its demands may have scheduling repercussions.

The Finnish government is expected to reconsider Fennovoima’s decision-in-principle this summer or autumn, in light of major changes in its plans since it originally received a green light.

The clock is ticking

In Tiippana’s view, Fennovoima still has plenty of work to do in improving its management structure. He points out the deadline for the firm to file its construction permit application is just over a year away.

Tiippana says that another important demand involves instructing and guiding the planned supplier of the plant, the Russian state-owned firm Rosatom, about Finnish practices and demands regarding plant design.

“This is a big, demanding job, which requires know-how,” he told Yle.

Tiippana says that STUK is putting other companies and agencies involved on notice that its demands may have scheduling repercussions.

Related stories from around the Arctic:

Canada: Canada’s Northwest Territories unveils ambitious energy plan, CBC News

Finland: Concerns in Sweden over Finland nuclear plan, Yle News

Sweden:  Support for nuclear power falls in Sweden says survey, Radio Sweden

United States:  Villagers suspect nuclear devices buried in Arctic Alaska, Alaska Dispatch

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