Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs Jan Vapaavuori has announced that he will not recommend that the government and Parliament approve the application of power company Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) to build a fourth nuclear reactor at its Olkiluoto power plant, but he would recommend approval of a revised plan by the Fennovoima consortium for a new Russian-built plant near Raahe.
Both projects had been preliminarily approved in the past, but the companies have sought significant changes in the permits. TVO wanted a nearly four-year extension on its permit, due to delays in construction of the Olkiluoto 3 reactor, and Fennovoima plans to build a different type of reactor with a different supplier than originally envisaged. It would be built by the Russian state-owned company Rosatom.
At the press conference, Vapaavuori said he will bring the issues before the cabinet on Thursday.
He stressed that the situation is unprecedented, as a Finnish utility has never before asked for changes in a nuclear application.
Vapaavuori said that his ministry would not recommend granting an extension to TVO’s application. In a statement on the ministry website, he said: “The supplementary application for a deadline extension by Teollisuuden Voima to a decision-in-principle will be presented for rejection.”
However Vapaavuori gave cautious approval to the revised plan by the Fennovoima consortium for a new Russian-built plant near Raahe. The minister imposed a key caveat, however.
In the statement, he specified: “The supplement of the application by Fennovoima to a decision-in-principle will be presented for approval with one precondition for issuing the construction license: at least 60 per cent of the shares must be in Finnish ownership.”
Vapaavuori said that as far as he knew, the EU has not commented on Finland’s plan for launching a major investment project with the Russian state during a period of economic sanctions over Ukraine.
Green repeat of 2002?
The Green League has indicated it will quit the government if it approves any new nuclear reactors – and that the party considers both of these projects to now be in effect new reactors.
Its chair, Ville Niinistö, has scheduled a press conference for 4 pm to say whether or not the party will stay in the cabinet until its term ends next spring. Without the Greens’ 10 seats, the four remaining government parties would have a razor-thin majority of 102 seats in the 200-seat legislature.
The Greens left the government in 2002 when it approved the Olkiluoto 3 reactor. That unit is not expected to be ready before late 2018.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Oil and gas consultations in Canada’s eastern Arctic next week, CBC News
Greenland: Statoil awarded exploration licence off Greenland, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Oil, Industry and Arctic Sustainability, Deutsche Welle’s Ice-Blog
Russia: Russia sees Wrangel Island oil and gas potential; Greenpeace eyes an eastern Arctic front, Alaska Dispatch
United States: Gasline partners take steps toward permitting, marketing of project in Alaska, Alaska Public Radio Network