Finnish power company Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) said on 19 June that fuel would not be loaded into the EPR reactor at unit 3 of the Olkiluoto NPP  until the end of August.  It had previously been expected to begin in June.

On 10 April, TVO had said the Areva-Siemens Consortium that is constructing the plant would provide a schedule review this month, but the consortium now says the schedule review will be completed in July. TVO also announced in April that the modification outage work during the first quarter of this year at Olkiluoto 3 “had not been progressed according to the updated schedule issued by the plant supplier Areva-Siemens Consortium in November 2018”. Under the latest schedule, fuel was to be loaded into the reactor core in June, with grid connection to take place in October, and the start of regular electricity generation scheduled for January 2020.

Hot functional testing of the 1600 MWe pressurised water reactor began in December 2017 but was not completed until May 2018, 50 days later than planned.  The delay was due to vibrations in the pressuriser surge line, and TVO had said a comprehensive modification package would be implemented at to update the plant’s electrical and instrumentation and control systems. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) has said the problem must be resolved before fuel loading can proceed. Although TVO was granted an operating licence by the Finnish government for Olkiluoto 3 in March separate authorisation from Stuk is needed for fuel loading. TVO announced on 23 May that it had started work to install liquid absorbers featuring bitumen to resolve the vibration issue and that this was expected to be completed in the early summer.

Construction of Olkiluoto 3 began in 2005 under a turnkey contract signed with TVO in late 2003 with completion initially scheduled for 2009. However, there have been a series of setbacks resulting in its being ten years behind schedule and significantly over budget. In 2018 TVO reached an agreement with the consortium over costs and losses caused by delays, including compensation of €450m to be paid in two instalments.

There is also uncertainty over the EPR under construction at unit 3 of EDF’s Flamanville NPP in northern France.  French nuclear regulator ASN said on 19 June that utility EDF would have to repair eight faulty weldings that traverse the containment vessel of the reactor. Following the discovery of the problems with the weldings, EDF in July 2018 delayed the scheduled loading of nuclear fuel by a year to the fourth quarter of 2019. However, in April, IRSN – ASN’s technical arm – recommended that EDF should repair the eight weldings, which are difficult to access and hard to fix. EDF had argued that the weldings were not a threat to the reactor’s safety could remain.  EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said repairing the weldings would cause further delays to the reactor, which, like Olkiluoto 3, is already years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget.

Discovery of the faulty welds obliged EDF to delay the start-up of the plant until the second quarter of 2020. It also announced an increase in the cost of the project to €10.5bn and then to €10.9bn. The cost estimate in July 2011 was €8bn. Some French media reports suggest that commercial operation may now be delayed until 2022.