Further delay in commissioning of Finnish EPR

28 August 2020

Fuel loading at the Olkiluoto 3 EPR will now not take place until March next year, according to a revised schedule provided to Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) by the Areva-Siemens consortium. Grid connection is now scheduled for October 2021, with regular electricity production due to start in February 2022.

The Olkiluoto 3 EPR (Image: TVO)

In April, TVO said measures put in place at the plant to prevent the spread of coronavirus "may have significantly added uncertainty to the progress of the project". At that time it was informed by the Areva-Siemens consortium that fuel loading would not take place as planned in June this year. The start of regular electricity production, scheduled for March 2021, could also be delayed. Areva-Siemens will update the schedule for the unit as soon as the impact of the pandemic is known.

The supplier consortium has now informed TVO there will be a nine-month delay loading fuel into the Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) reactor from the previously planned June this year. Both grid connection and the start of regular electricity production have been put back by 11 months, from the previously planned November this year and March 2021, respectively.

TVO said issues that have caused delays in the project schedule are: slowly progressing system testing; technical problems that have been identified in tests; and the increase in the amount of maintenance work caused by project delay. The lack of necessary spare parts has also caused delays. However, it added, "Technical problems that have emerged on the plant unit have now been solved, and the repair works are currently ongoing. Technical problems have been related to sea water system equipment; cracks in the pressuriser safety valves' spring loaded pilot control valves; faulty components in emergency diesel generators and the pressuriser surge line vibration problem. Faulty cable insulation has been detected in certain automation cabinets and these will be repaired during the autumn."

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, works on OL3 construction site have continued under special arrangements and we are now getting ready for fuel loading on OL3, which is a big and important step for us," said Jouni Silvennoinen, TVO's director for the project. "The remaining system testing, maintenance works and the repair works on the technical faults will be completed before the loading." He noted there are "only a few tens" of the original 3000 commissioning tests remaining to be completed.

The OL3 plant supplier consortium - Areva GmbH, Areva NP SAS and Siemens AG - is constructing the unit under a fixed-price turnkey contract. They have joint liability for the contractual obligations until the end of the guarantee period of the unit. The consortium began construction of Olkiluoto 3 in 2005. Completion of the reactor was originally scheduled for 2009, but the project has had various delays and setbacks.

TVO noted the new Areva management, appointed recently, is preparing a financial solution to finalise the project until the end of the guarantee period. TVO said it continues negotiations with Areva-Siemens consortium on the terms for project completion.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News