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Authorities demand safety upgrade for nuclear plant plan

Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) is demanding safety upgrades to plans for the construction of a nuclear plant by power consortium Fennovoima. STUK says that a facility on offer from Russia's Rosatom will need modifications in order to meet Finnish safety standards.

Fennovoiman havainnekuva Hanhikivenniemelle sijoitettavasta ydinvoimalaitoksesta.
Design concept for Fennovoima's nuclear plant at Pyhäjoki. Image: Fennovoima

With progress reported in the Fennovoima-Rosatom plant project, Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) will again be scrutinizing safety factors.

STUK issued a preliminary safety assessment of the envisaged plant in 2009. That review found that the Rosatom AES-2006 pressurized water reactor facility did not meet all Finnish safety standards.

The report noted that the original plans for the plant did not take into consideration internal events such as flooding and fires, or external phenomena such as unusual weather and earthquakes. It also found that provisions for external manmade events, including the impact of aircraft or industrial accidents were not up to standard.

Deficiencies were also identified in plant automation, while the plant’s primary coolant circuit pressure control - the system designed to prevent a meltdown in the event of an accident - does not meet Finnish requirements.

Multi-stage process

Fennovoima says that the plant corresponds with IAEA and EUR requirements, and for licensing purposes it will be adapted to be in accordance with Finnish national safety standards. Costs have not been released. STUK estimates that the proposed alternatives can be redesigned so as to bring them into compliance.

After the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, Finland introduced a three stage approval process for new nuclear power plants. A plant must first obtain a decision-in-principle from Parliament, then construction permission from the government and finally an operating license from the government.

In addition to the safety issues raised by STUK, an environmental impact assessment will have to be brought up to date. And, it is still undecided if Parliament will have to once again debate its decision on giving a go-ahead.


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