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Nuclear watchdog seeks re-check of Olkiluoto 3 reactor

STUK does not expect the extra checks to slow down construction of the long-delayed Olkiluoto 3 unit.

Olkiluoto 3 -ydinvoimalan reaktoripaineastia.
Olkiluoto 3's pressure vessel Image: TVO / AREVA

The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) is demanding that energy utility TVO carry out new tests of the durability of the pressure vessel planned for the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor. This follows a recent discovery by French officials of inconsistencies in the mechanical toughness of a vessel made for a similar reactor, also being built by the French company Areva.

The third unit for the Flamanville, France reactor was built by Areva in France, while the one to be used in the Finnish reactor has been assembled in Japan. Both units are of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) type.

“There are inconsistencies in the material that the reactor vessel is made of,” Tapani Virolainen, Deputy Director of STUK’s Nuclear Reactor Regulation Department, confirmed to Yle.

No further delays seen

Virolainen explains that anomalies were found in both the reactor vessel head and reactor vessel bottom head. He says STUK will ask TVO to re-check the reactor vessel’s manufacturing process.

He says that STUK received information about the discovery by the French nuclear authority ASN about a month ago. Virolainen does not expect the extra checks to slow down construction of the long-delayed Olkiluoto 3 unit.

In March, Areva promised that the reactor will begin operations in 2018. It was originally to have been ready in 2009. Flamanville 3 has also been hit by major delays and budget overruns.

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