The Finnish Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) announced on 25 February that the government can issue an operating permit for unit 3 of Teollisuuden Voima’s (TVO’s) Olkiluoto NPP to the year 2038, despite unresolved safety issues.
The nuclear plant was originally due to start up in 2009, but this has been pushed back to 2020, 11 years behind schedule. "Stuk has assessed, besides the technical and structural safety, also the preparedness of organisation and employees to operate the plant safely," the agency said in a statement. The statement was issued on condition that TVO conduct periodic safety appraisals by the end of 2028 and send them to Stuk for approval. The government is expected to decide on the plant's operation in two week's time.
TVO’s 130,000-page application was submitted to the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy (TEM) in April 2016 including details of the technical and operational safety principles, arrangement for nuclear waste management, and TVO's expertise and financial position. As well as seeking approval for operation of the unit, the application seeks permission to use the existing on-site interim storage facilities for used fuel and other radioactive wastes. It does not cover the use of final disposal facilities for nuclear wastes.
The application was reviewed by Stuk, as well as several ministries and certain other authorities and communities, which will also submit statements to TEM.
Stuk's safety assessment has concluded that the plant has been constructed to be safe and that TVO is able to operate it safely. However,the report included critical measures that would have to be implemented prior to the facility receiving a loading permit for the nuclear fuel and before it can be connected to the national power grid. Test operations in early 2018 uncovered an anomaly in the reactor. Stuk called on TVO to take steps to suppress vibration in the pressuriser surge line of the primary circuit before loading fuel into the reactor.
Construction of the French-German EPR pressurised water reactor began in 2005 and is among the world's largest nuclear reactors at a rated output of 1,600MWe. Olkiluoto 3 is projected to meet about 15% of Finland's total electricity demand when fully operational. Under the latest schedule, fuel will now be loaded into the reactor core in June, with grid connection following in October, and the start of regular electricity generation scheduled in January 2020.
After the completion of OL3, there will be five operational nuclear power reactors in Finland – Olkiluoto 1 and 2 (both 890MWe boiling water reactors) and two VVER-440 units in Loviisa, east of Helsinki. A sixth reactor is being planned for Hanhikivi, northern Finland, to be operated by Finnish Fennovoima company. The plant, which will use Russian technology has also experienced delays. Fennovoima has said it hopes to get construction permit in 2021.
In December 2018, unit 1 of the Taishan plant in China's Guangdong province became the first EPR to enter commercial operation, with Taishan 2 scheduled to begin commercial operation this year. The loading of fuel into the core of the Flamanville 3 EPR in France is expected towards the end of this year. Akll projects are behind schedule. Two EPR units are also under construction at the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, UK.