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Nuclear contractor Areva and operator TVO disagree on new Olkiluoto 3 timetable

The French nuclear plant contractor Areva says the long-delayed Olkiluoto nuclear power reactor could be ready in mid-2016, allowing the operator to fire up the facility for commercial use at the beginning of 2018. But Finnish operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said a 2018 start simply isn’t good enough.

Olkiluoto 3 -reaktorin asennustöitä heinäkuussa 2014.
Olkiluoto 3 -reaktorin asennustöitä heinäkuussa 2014. Image: Yle

In a statement released Monday the French-German joint venture Areva Siemens said that the Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) nuclear reactor in Eurajoki, southwest Finland could be delivered by mid-2016. The company based the new schedule on a deal with the Finnish power consortium Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), which owns the plant.

According to Areva the reason for the latest holdup was the long-delayed approval of the reactor’s automatic systems.

“The architecture of the reactor's instrumentation and control system was accepted in April 2014, and this required four years of negotiations with TVO. Approval of the I&C system created the basis for scheduling the final phase of the project,” Areva said.

TVO: New timetable "hard to accept"

However in a counter-statement also released Monday, TVO said it wasn’t happy with the new timetable for completion of OL3, which was originally due to be finished in 2009.

“It is hard for us to accept such a late start-up forecast given by the supplier,” TVO’s Olkiluoto 3 project lead Jouni Silvennoinen said in the release, adding that the much of the plant has already been completed.

The project chief added that the creation of a starting point for the project timetable was a positive development.

“The remaining work has been divided into packages around which we will look at the planned segments individually to see what remains to be done, how to do it what the variables are and how to manage them in the best possible way. It’s a big job,” Silvennoinen noted.

He added that the commissioning stage had been thoroughly reviewed with the supplier Areva.

TVO ready to press ahead with OL4

For its part Areva said that the new delivery schedule would not affect its losses on the project, which in June were estimated at 3.9 billion euros.

As far back as 2009 – when the reactor was originally to have been ready – Finland's nuclear safety regulator led an inquiry into the mounting delays. It blamed problems in planning, supervision, and workmanship. Authorities said the contractors weren't used to the exacting standards of a nuclear reactor, given that a new one is built so rarely.

This month, the government is to consider TVO's request for an extension on its permit to build a fourth reactor at the same site.

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