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TVO power consortium proposes shelving fourth Olkiluoto reactor

The board of the Finnish consortium of power companies Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has proposed abandoning plans for construction of a fourth reactor at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in southwest Finland. TVO said it may consider applying for a new decision-in-principle for the reactor in the future.

Olkiluodon ydinvoimala
Image: Yle

The board of the energy company consortium behind the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Eurajoki, southwest Finland, has proposed scrapping plans to seek a  construction permit for a fourth reactor.

The validity of a previous decision-in-principle for the construction of the reactor will end in June if the company doesn't apply for the permit. The board will put the proposal to shareholders during an extraordinary general meeting.

One reason behind the decision to shelve the fourth reactor has been the cloud of delays, litigation and cost overruns hanging over the nuclear facility’s third reactor. Olkiluoto 3 was due to come online back in 2009. Now the French contractor Areva is saying that the reactor will be operational in 2018 – nine years after the original completion date. Over the years TVO and Areva have also been embroiled in legal wrangling over who is ultimately to blame for the delays and the ballooning budget.

Last year TVO sought an extension to the period for filing an application to begin construction of Olkiluoto 4, however the government turned down the request.

Decision-in-principle expiring

The decision-in-principle to construct the fourth reactor was granted back in 2010 by the administration of then- Centre Party PM Matti Vanhanen. However it will expire if TVO does not apply for a construction permit by the end of June this year. The company said that it will consider seeking a new decision-in-principle at some point in the future.

"Finland still has a need for the production of emission-free power. Olkiluoto 4 is an important project for us and we will maintain our readiness to apply for a new decision-in-principle. We will decide on that application separately," said TVO chief executive Jarmo Tanhua.

Any new decision-in-principle would have to be given the green light by the Parliament. Apart from TVO, Nordic energy giant Fortum is also considering construction of a new nuclear reactor.

Last December, MPs voted in favour of the construction of another nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki, northwest Finland, despite concerns in Finland and Sweden over possible harmful environmental impacts.

The plant is to be operated by another energy consortium, Fennovoima, in which Fortum has a significant stake. The facility will be delivered by the Russian state-owned nuclear contractor Rosatom.

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