Fortum submits EIA report for Loviisa

06 September 2021

Finnish utility Fortum today submitted its environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the Loviisa nuclear power plant to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (MEAE). The report assesses the environmental impacts of a potential extension of the operation of the plant's two VVER-440 pressurised water reactors or, alternatively, the decommissioning of the plant, as well as the environmental impacts of the final disposal facility for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.

Loviisa (Image: Fortum)

Loviisa unit 1 began commercial operation in 1977 and is currently licensed to operate until the end of 2027. Unit 2, which entered commercial operation in 1981, is licensed until the end of 2030. The two primary alternatives in Fortum's EIA process are either continuing the use of both units until about 2050 or decommissioning the nuclear power plant after the expiration of the current licences.

On 13 August last year, Fortum submitted an EIA programme to MEAE, which included its plan on the assessment of environmental impacts as well as on the organisation of communication and participation. MEAE acts as a coordinating authority in the project, while the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the international hearing.

MEAE issued a statement on the EIA programme in November. In its opinion, the ministry stated that Fortum's plans to carry out the EIA were sufficient, provided that the matters presented in the opinion were taken into account. The ministry requested that the EIA report include further details on the management of the ageing of the plant and take into consideration climate change and cooling water. The ministry also requested that the company provide more information on radioactive waste management and the prevention and consequences of accidents.

Fortum has now submitted its EIA report to the ministry. The company said it has been prepared in line with the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure Act and Decree, and the preparation has taken into consideration the EIA programme-related statement issued in November by MEAE.

"The EIA has assessed the project's impacts on the living conditions, comfort and health of people, as well as on the environment, water systems, groundwater, fishing, nature sites, landscape, and cultural environment," Fortum said. "Additionally, the project's impacts on the community structure and the regional economy were assessed."

"The operation of the Loviisa nuclear power plant is well established, and its environmental impacts are known very well. In preparing the EIA report, area observations, studies and analyses were used. Additionally, residents were surveyed and stakeholders were interviewed during the process," said Thomas Buddas, deputy director of the Loviisa plant. "From an environmental impact perspective, all the assessed alternatives can be implemented. The assessment results provide a good basis for continuing Fortum's internal preparations towards the decision-making regarding the Loviisa power plant's future."

MEAE will now request opinions on the EIA report from authorities and organisations and will organise a hearing with citizens and communities. The consultation period is between 20 September and 18 November and the consultation will be carried out online. A public hearing on the project will take place in Loviisa on 7 October.

The ministry said it will release its informed conclusion in January 2022. The EIA report will be attached to the application for an operating or decommissioning licence concerning the future of the Loviisa plant in due course.

In 2020, the Loviisa plant generated a total of 7.8 terawatt hours (net) of electricity, which is more than 10% of Finland's electricity production.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News