Finns reject criticism from French contractor on nuclear plant construction delays
TVO and Nuclear Safety Authority blame Areva
TVO, the electric utility that has commissioned the construction of Finland's fifth nuclear reactor in Olkiluoto in the southwest of Finland, has expressed surprise at claims made by the French construction company Areva, which has the contract to build the facility.
Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon said on Tuesday in a press conference in Paris that the delay in the completion of the reactor has been caused foot-dragging by TVO in dealing with Finnish authorities.
"We feel that it is a very surprising, and to some extent, a worrisome message", says TVO director Martin Landtman, who is managing the construction of the plant.
Lauvergeon said that spite of Areva's numerous requests to TVO to improve the process of getting official permission, delays continue to encumber progress in the project.
Landtman said that the delays were caused by Areva, which has supplied TVO with only half of the documents and drawings for the construction.
TVO has also had to return some material with inadequacies to be fixed.
"It has not corresponded to our requirements, or those of Finnish officials", said Landtman. "I want to emphasise that according to information in the news, Areva had the similar experiences in the United States, where it is trying to get a licence for a new installation."
An Areva spokesperson said that the company does not want to comment on Landtman's views, or to add to what Lauvergeon said on Tuesday.
The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) takes TVO's side in the matter. STUK Director-General Jukka Laaksonen said in a television news interview on Wednesday that Areva knew from the beginning that it would be unable to keep to the timetable that it had committed itself to. On the other hand, he said that TVO had indulged in wishful thinking with respect to the scheduling.
"TVO's expectations were far too optimistic, and when they asked for a tender like this, Areva put forward such a tender."
Areva is building the third reactor for TVO on a turnkey basis, and for a fixed price.
The total value of the new reactor is EUR 3 billion, and most of the money is to go to Areva.
The project has been delayed by two years already, which means higher expenses and lower profitability from Areva's point of view.
The delay is also imposing losses on TVO, which will be able to start earning money on its investment two years later than it had initially expected.
Landtman will not say if anyone will have to pay compensation for losses caused by the delay.
However, he insists that Areva alone is to blame for the delay in the construction of the nuclear power unit.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Further nuclear reactor construction delays could lead to electricity shortage (13.8.2007)
Construction delays at nuclear plant spark row over compensation (1.2.2007)
Head of nuclear construction project says schedule may be too tight (18.12.2006)
Further delay in construction of Olkiluoto-3 nuclear reactor (5.12.2006)
EU Commission investigates financing of Olkiluoto nuclear plant (25.10.2006)