Finnish Defence Ministry demands risk assessment for nuclear plant project over Russian ties

The Nation  |  Oct 25, 2021

The Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant to be built in northern Finland, is billed as one of the largest individual investments in the country. Once launched, the power plant will cover approximately one tenth of Finland's electricity needs without carbon dioxide emissions.

The Finnish Defence Ministry has demanded that a risk assessment be carried out on the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant slated for construction in Pyhäjoki on Finland's northwest coast.

The plant is being built by the Fennovoima power consortium, which includes the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom with a minority stake.

In a statement, the Defence Ministry highlighted the economic and geopolitical risks associated with the project and also called for the plant's fuel to be supplied from other sources rather than coming exclusively from Russia.

"Carrying out such risk analyses has become somewhat more common. We see more clearly than before that there could be a reason for this in this context", the head of the environment and real estate unit at the Defence Ministry, Sara Kajander, said, as quoted by the Helsinki Times.

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Kajander added that the assessment could be compiled by a group of several different authorities and experts offering their expertise, but would not comment on whether its conclusions would have any bearing on the feasibility of the project, which has already encountered multiple delays.

The ministry has suggested that the risk assessment could be carried out in conjunction with the license permit decision, as Fennovoima earlier this year announced that it was hoping to obtain a building license by the summer of 2022, so that the construction of the power plant might begin in the summer of 2023.

Since its inception, the project, which is to house one Russian-designed VVER-1200 pressurised water reactor, with a capacity of 1200 MW, has been hamstrung by a long list of delays.

The Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant is slated for construction on the Hanhikivi peninsula in Pyhäjoki in northern Finland, and is billed as one of the largest individual investments in Finland at 7-7.5 billion euros ($8.2-8.7 billion). Once in operation, the power plant will reliably cover approximately one tenth of Finland's electricity needs without carbon dioxide emissions and provide a significant economic boost, especially for northern Finland.

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The Finnish energy company Fennovoima purchased the nuclear power plant as a turnkey delivery. The plant is supplied by Rosatom's Finnish subsidiary RAOS Project Oy, which is responsible for the design, construction, installation, and commissioning of the power plant. Fennovoima is the license applicant and operator of the plant.

Finland currently has four nuclear reactors in two power plants, all located on the shores of the Baltic Sea, and providing about 30 percent of the country's electricity. One of the plants, in Loviisa, was launched in 1977 and has two Soviet-built VVER reactors.

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