TVO: Rethink could kill Finland’s Olkiluoto 4 nuclear project

The nuclear power plant Olkiluoto 3 is pictured under construction on March 15, 2010 in Olkiluoto, south-western Finland. (AFP/Getty Images)
The nuclear power plant Olkiluoto 3 is pictured under construction on March 15, 2010 in Olkiluoto, south-western Finland. (AFP/Getty Images)
The TVO utility wants an extension of its preliminary permit for a fourth unit at the ill-fated Olkiluoto plant – but some politicians are calling for a complete reconsideration of the plan.

The power utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) says that its planned fourth Olkiluoto nuclear reactor will probably never be built if it is forced to re-apply for a new decision-in-principle.

The current decision only remains in force until next June. Work on the Olkiluoto 4 (OL4) project has been put off due to drastic delays and cost overruns with the unit’s predecessor, OL3. The firm has asked for the existing decision to be extended.

Big changes since 2010

Some politicians meanwhile have called for a complete re-evaluation of the planned OL4 unit near Pori on Finland’s west coast. They say this is essential in light of the huge OL3 setbacks, the proposed Fennovoima reactor in Pyhäjoki, northern Finland, doubts about waste storage and other significant changes in the economic and energy environment since the original preliminary OL4 decision was made in 2010.

“As we see it, there is no reason to go through the process again, as this is simply a question of timetables. A reconsideration would be a big risk and a significant domestic investment might remain completely unrealised. Then that would be it,” TVO communications head Pasi Tuohimaa said on Wednesday.

100m spent, lessons learnt

Tuohimaa pointed out that TVO has already spent nearly 100 million euros on planning OL4.

“We’ve spent a lot on it and we’ve also become wiser due to our earlier experiences, so we are still serious about carrying this project out.”

In May, TVO asked for an extension of its OL4 decision-in-principle. The government is to consider this request in the early autumn, while also discussing the Fennovoima venture.

The chair of the Parliament’s Economic Committee, Mauri Pekkarinen, said on Tuesday that consideration of the application should be put off until after the new legislature takes office next spring. Pekkarinen argued that nuclear power permits should not be granted to companies just so they can keep them on the shelf. The veteran opposition Centre Party politician oversaw energy issues as Minister of Economic Affairs and Minister of Trade and Industry between 2003 and 2011.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Cleanup of Cold War radar sites nears end in eastern Canadian Arctic, CBC News

Finland:  Finland nuclear plant faces Russia-related obstacle says politician, Yle News

Sweden: Vattenfall may pay billions for new nuclear safety requirements, Radio Sweden

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

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