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Nuclear agency: No progress in safety culture at Fennovoima

Finland’s nuclear safety watchdog says it has seen no improvement at Fennovoima, which hopes to build a reactor with a Russian partner.

Fennovoiman ydinvoimalan rakennustyömaa Pyhäjoen Hanhikivenniemellä 13062018.
Preliminary work has begun at the site on the Hanhikivi peninsula in Pyhäjoki. Image: Timo Sipola / Yle

Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) says it remains concerned about attitudes toward safety at Fennovoima, a consortium that seeks to build the nation’s third nuclear power plant.

In a third-quarter report issued on Monday, STUK says that it has re-examined measures by Fennovoima to develop its management process, handling of safety issues and safety culture. However, the study carried out in June found no significant improvement in these areas.

Safety culture "does not fulfil Finnish expectations"

STUK has expressed concerns about the project’s safety culture on several occasions.

In a statement last November, the agency warned that “the organizations participating in the nuclear power plant project must improve their operations before they are in a position to start the construction work," adding that, "the safety culture of RAOS Project, which is the plant supplier, and the main contractor Titan-2 currently does not fulfill the Finnish expectations."

In 2013, Fennovoima chose RAOS Project, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned Rosatom, as the plant supplier after its original plans to build a larger reactor in partnership with German utility E.ON fell through. RAOS now owns about one-third of Fennovoima.

The current plan calls for a 1.2-gigawatt reactor to be up and running by 2024.

Based on its inspections, STUK has demanded that Fennovoima clarify its own investigative procedures and look into whether the handling and coordination of its strategy for managing serious accidents has been implemented properly throughout the organisation.

No comment from Fennovoima

The long-delayed project is still awaiting a decision on its construction license application. That decision is to be made by the government based on STUK’s recommendations, but is unlikely before the current centre-right cabinet leaves office next spring.

Preliminary work has begun at the site on the Hanhikivi peninsula in Pyhäjoki, on Finland's west coast between Oulu and Kokkola.

In March Rosatom said that the plant's timetable would not be affected by EU sanctions on Russia. Fennovoima had warned that sanctions might affect its banks’ ability to guarantee project funding.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Fennovoima had not commented on the STUK report.

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