Finland's Ministry of Employment and the Economy has submitted its statement on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of Fortum's proposed new reactor at its existing Loviisa site.
|The existing two-unit Loviisa plant (Image: Fortum)
The ministry said that the EIA report, submitted by Fortum on 3 April, "meets the content requirements for legislation and has been handled in the manner required under the regulations in force." It has concluded that Fortum's report is "adequate at the current planning stage of the project."
However, the ministry has requested further clarifications of certain questions handled in the EIA procedure. Such clarifications will be necessary, the ministry said, if Fortum subsequently submits an application to the government for a decision-in-principle on the construction of the new reactor.
In particular, the ministry wants more information on the impact of cooling water from the planned third reactor at Loviisa. Referring to a proposal from Fennovoima to also construct a new nuclear power plant at Loviisa, the ministry has asked Fortum to also take into account the possible effects of cooling water from a fourth reactor at Loviisa in its EIA. Specifications and further definitions are also necessary regarding the environmental impact of various plant type alternatives, the ministry said.
When Fortum submitted its EIA report to the ministry, it said that in addition to the environmental effects of the two pressurized water reactors already operating there, a third unit of between 1000 and 1800 MWe would extend the growing season and volume of aquatic vegetation and plankton. It would also make winter fishing and recreation more difficult because of thinner sea ice over a 'slightly expanded' area, compared to the current situation.
Although the EIA study included a range of reactor sizes and alternative cooling water intake and discharge options, the results for all did not differ significantly. "Overall, the impacts on the Gulf of Finland are insignificant," concluded Fortum.
Fortum launched its EIA procedure for a third unit at Loviisa in June 2007. The construction of a third unit at Loviisa by Fortum would require upgrading of the Loviisa power plant's raw water supply system, the extension of the present sewage works and the construction of a loading area for sea transport . In addition, the project involves implementation of power transmission links to the national grid. In addition to the new reactor, the project would also involve building on-site facilities for the treatment, storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel and low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. It also covers the decommissioning of the reactor, together with the treatment and disposal of waste generated by the decommissioning.
Two other firms are at similar stages of developing plans for new nuclear in Finland. Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), which is already constructing its third reactor at Olkiluoto, completed the EIA for a potential 1000-1800 MWe fourth unit in mid-February. Meanwhile, Fennovoima has submitted its plan for an EIA to government before completing the EIA itself.
However, the actual rate of growth in electricity demand in Finland means that only one of the new reactor plans would likely go ahead in the near future.
Ministers mull new reactors
Jyrki Katainen, Finland's finance minister, has said that the country should decide on building two more reactors by 2011 in order to be self-sufficient in electricity production. He said that any surplus electricity could be exported. Katainen said that the matter should be brought before the government's energy policy working group this autumn.
Speaking on national television station YLE, he said; "The key is to be self-sufficient in energy." Katainen added, "I do not love nuclear, or any other source of energy, but for me it is important that emissions are as low as possible."
However, Mauri Pekkarinen, the country's economic affairs minister, has suggested that Finland should only build new nuclear plants for domestic power consumption. He told YLE: "We will build a plant to satisfy energy needs here in Finland and the north. Not for Russian, German or Italian consumption."
Pekkarinen added, "It's clear to me that we should provide those 1000 or 1800 MWe of additional power. We will make a decision about that during this governmental term. Whether it requires one nuclear plant, or two or three is left to be seen."