Fennovoima 'qualified' for nuclear plant project

20 October 2009

The Finnish radiation and safety authority, Stuk, has concluded in a preliminary safety assessment that Fennovoima has the qualifications to construct its proposed nuclear power plant safely and in accordance with Finland's nuclear energy act.


Simo (Fennovoima)
How a nuclear power plant would look at Simo (Image: Fennovoima)
Fennovoima submitted an application to the Finnish government in January for a decision-in-principle on the construction of a new nuclear power plant at one of three possible locations. Its application presented to Stuk all plant-related information required by Finnish rules. Stuk has now reviewed the designs and prepared a preliminary safety assessment on each.


The preliminary safety assessment - which has been submitted to the Ministry of Economy and Employment - considers the proposed plant locations, plant design alternatives and the organization of Fennovoima.


Fennovoima has proposed 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. The company said the plant would likely be based on Areva's European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) or SWR-1000 boiling water reactor (BWR), or on Toshiba's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR). Fennovoima is presenting three site alternatives for the plant: Hanhikivi in Pyhäjoki municipality, Gäddbergsö in the municipality of Ruotsinpyhtää and Karsikko in Simo municipality.


Stuk said that while each of the proposed designs "do not as such fulfil all the Finnish safety regulations," they can be modified to fulfil the requirements. It said that the extent of modifications needed vary in each design. Stuk said that the necessary changes and additional work can be carried out in the later phases of the licensing process.


With regards to the plant's location, Stuk said that all three site alternatives are suitable for locating a nuclear power plant. However, it said that "each location has advantages and disadvantages which must be taken into account when designing the plant." The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for Fennovoima's project earlier found no environmental problems at any of the three sites under consideration.


Stuk also concluded that "Fennovoima has the prerequisites to create a management system with a good safety culture and a high standard quality control for constructing and operating a nuclear power plant." In addition, it "fulfils other prerequisites ... that the law requires."


Fennovoima will make the final site selection and the design selection once the decision-in-principle has been ratified by the Finnish parliament. It will also apply for a construction licence for the plant once the decision has been made. Fennovoima expects to start constructing the plant around 2012, with commercial operation by 2018 to 2020.


Finland currently has four nuclear reactors in operating - two at Loviisa operated by Fortum and two at Olkiluoto operated by Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) - providing 27% of its electricity. A third reactor at Olkiluoto is under construction. TVO is also proposing to build a further reactor at Olkiluoto, while Fortum is considering building a third unit at Loviisa. TVO applied for a decision-in-principle for Olkiluoto 4 in April 2008, while Fortum submitted its application in February 2009.


The government and parliament are expected to make a decision in 2010 on which of the three projects, if any, can proceed.