Olkiluoto date dispute

12 October 2011

The new reactor at Olkiluoto may not be fully operational until 2014 said owner TVO in a stock market statement that was then questioned by plant vendor Areva.


Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) released a statement today in which it "estimates the start of regular operation [of Olkiluoto 3] may be postponed until 2014." This was based on the latest progress update from the Areva-Siemens consortium building the plant.


Areva CEO Luc Oursel, however, expressed surprise at the date when talking to Reuters. He said that under the current schedule late 2012 would see nuclear fuel loaded in the reactor.


Fuel loading is the milestone that marks the end of the construction phase. Next comes commissioning and its goals of criticality, first power and commercial operation, typically taking about three months. After that the power plant is handed over as a completed project.


As the first Areva EPR to be built and the first new-build project in Finland since 1982, Olkiluoto 3 has suffered several setbacks since the start of construction in 2005. There were significant delays after elevated levels of water in concrete could not be readily explained to the Finnish nuclear safety regulator, Stuk. In addition, some large steel components were re-cast after subcontractors failed to fulfil the high standards demanded of a nuclear project, while Stuk's acceptance of the instrumentation and control system was another major sticking point.


TVO noted that main non-nuclear construction at the site has been completed, while installation of the main reactor components and systems was "close to completion." The four steam generators, weighing 550 tonnes each, were put in place one by one over a four month period to February this year. At that time the projected start up date was the end of 2012.


However, TVO said work on reactor system piping and electrical installation has taken "longer than previously estimated and the accumulated delays will impact the start of plant commissioning."


In his comments to Reuters, Oursel said TVO's statement did not "correspond to the spirit of partnership and cooperation" he wished to see at the site. The companies are involved in an arbitration process: TVO complaining about losses due to delays, and Areva countering that TVO has caused some delays by processing design documents too slowly.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News