A new nuclear power reactor at Loviisa would have no significant environmental effect, according to Fortum's environmental impact assessment (EIA). Two other firms are vying for the chance to build.
|Loviisa's two existing reactors
As part of its plans to expand the Loviisa plant, owners Fortum completed the EIA for submission to the Finnish ministry of employment and economy. 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 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.
The EIA will now go on public display and be subject to comment before the ministry issues its own statement. Assuming a favourable opinion, the next step then would be for Fortum to apply for a decision in principle from the government to approve a new reactor project, to be ratified by parliament. A pre-requisite for these steps would be approval from the town of Loviisa and the nuclear safety regulator, Stuk.
Three into one
Two other firms are at similar stages of developing plans for new nuclear in Finland. Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), which is already building its third reactor, completed the EIA for a potential fourth in mid-February; and 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.
This situation is further complicated by a requirement for nuclear operators to demonstrate a long-term management plan for radioactive waste before building a new reactor. A waste management company called Posiva already exists with advanced plans for the long-term storage of highly radiactive used nuclear fuel as well as other wastes, and this is owned by TVO (60%) and Fortum (40%).