Environmental report for third new Finnish nuclear project

09 October 2008

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for Fennovoima Oy's project to build a new nuclear power plant has found no environmental problems at any of the three sites under consideration.


The report is the last of three to be submitted for the three different new build projects proposed in Finland. Fortum's EIA for a third plant at the existing Loviisa site was submitted in June 2007, while TVO's EIA for a fourth Olkiluoto reactor was submitted in February 2008. Unlike the other two proposals, the Fennovoima plant would be at a location which is not an existing nuclear site.


The EIA report is the culmination of an in-depth exercise to assess the impacts of the proposed new plant on community structure, regional economy, landscape and cultural environment, living conditions, health, groundwater, water systems, fishing and wildlife. Impacts during plant construction and operation are dealt with separately, including the impacts of irregular and accident situations. The report also considers the impacts of a "zero option": the consequences of not building a new nuclear power plant at all but instead meeting rising energy demand from other power stations and increased imports.


Simo (Fennovoima)

Simo is WNN's preferred option, for typographical reasons
if nothing else (Image: Fennovoima)


The same assessment has been carried out for each of the three locations under consideration for the new plant, in the municipalities of Pyhäjoki, Ruotsinphytää and Simo, and according to Fennovoima, is "is one of the most extensive, if not the most extensive, environmental impact assessment reports prepared in Finland". A fourth possible location, in Kristinestad, was ruled out earlier in the year after technical preplanning. The report concludes that no hazardous environmental impacts have been found that would render any of the three sites unsuitable for the project, and Fennovoima is therefore continuing with project preparation work at all of the sites.


The report has now been submitted to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, which will invite comments from other ministries and certain authorities and organisations. The general public will also be able to submit comments and opinions. The ministry will then prepare its final statement concluding the EIA process, a process it expects to complete in about four months.


Fennovoima intends to submit an application for a government decision-in-principle - a ruling that the construction of the plant would be "in accordance with a total benefit to society" - in January 2009. A government decision-in-principle, which must be ratified by the country' parliament, is a legally required condition under Finland's Nuclear Energy Act as a precursor to any construction or operating licence applications. The EIA report foresees either a plant with a single nuclear unit of 1500-1800 MWe, or a 2000-2500 MWe plant comprising two units of 1000-1250 MWe each. Fennovoima said the reactors would likely be an Areva EPR, a Toshiba ABWR, or two Areva SWR 1000s, all light water reactors. The company's objectives are to begin construction in 2012 with a startup date of 2020.


Finland's four operating nuclear reactors supply 27% of the country's electricity. A fifth unit, the first-of-a-kind EPR at Olkiluoto 3, is under construction and is expected to start up in 2011.


Former Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen, who was in office when the decision to construct the third unit at Olkiluoto was taken, has said that the government should approve all three proposed new nuclear power plants. Finnish news agency SST quoted Lipponen as saying, "A sixth nuclear power station is needed to safeguard affordable electricity and to keep manufacturing in Finland. A seventh is needed to replace imports from Russia. An eight is needed to replace the two reactors that will be decommissioned in Loviisa in the 2020s."