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Is Areva finished in Finland?

By Linda Dubec.

In the year 2002, the Finnish Government granted Finnish energy company Teollisuuden Voima, or TVO, permission to build a third nuclear reactor in the nuclear power plant Olkiluoto in the municipality of Eurajoki in Finland. The reactor, which is called Olkiluoto 3, is a European pressurized water reactor (EPR) the first of its kind, and will have a capacity of 1,600 MW.

The construction of the reactor started in May 2005 but has been delayed several times. The date for operation start has been pushed forward (from the initial 2009 to 2018 or 2020) and the cost of construction has increased tremendously; the initial estimate was 3,2 billion € but today the total cost is estimated to land on 8,5 billion €. Recent news on Areva putting end dates on the contracts of all remaining staff in Finland are an indication that the company is all set to abandon the project unfinished. That would bring Olkiluoto 3 on an infamous list of abandoned nuclear projects around the world: Lemoniz (Spain), Zwentendorf (Austria), Bataan (Philippines) and Kalkar (Germany). This would be despite the fact that AREVA estimates that the Olkiluoto 3 project was 86% finished as of the end of December 2013.

The project has been met with widespread critique from EJOs and European citizens as an unsustainable project, focused on a path away from renewable energy sources. And with nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima in mind, health and safety are major concerns of the protesters.

Despite the Olkiluoto 3 project being a financial fiasco, TVO applied for permission in 2008 to build yet another reactor, Olkiluoto 4. The company was granted permission for the project by the Finnish Government in May 2010. But the recent turn of events is a clear indication that this environmental conflict is far from over.

More on this conflict in EJOLT’s Atlas of Environmental Justice (launch on March 13)

Picture: New York Times

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