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New Finnish nuclear reactor hits fresh snag

a significant motivator
by Staff Writers
Helsinki (AFP) Aug 10, 2007
Construction of Finland's new nuclear reactor, the world's first third-generation plant, is now more than 18 months behind schedule owing to fresh building problems, Finnish energy company TVO said on Friday.

The engineering companies behind the project, France's Areva and Germany's Siemens, have informed TVO that the commercial launch of the Olkiluoto 3 reactor could be delayed until 2011, pushing back a previous target of the turn of 2010-2011.

The reactor, Finland's fifth, was initially due to be operational in mid-2009 but has been plagued by delays.

In a statement, TVO said: "The supplier has reported that the execution of the works, in particular the need to satisfy the safety requirements of the new plant, is more demanding than the supplier had anticipated."

Martin Landtman, who heads the reactor project for TVO, said the company was "disappointed to learn about this setback".

"TVO and the supplier will review the supplier's plans for mitigating the delays, and for the completion of the remaining works. TVO will only thereafter be in a position to communicate when the completion of the plant can be expected," he said.

Manufacturing problems, cumbersome certification procedures for parts and inspections by Finnish nuclear safety authority STUK have all been blamed for delays in the past.

In early 2006, the project suffered a setback when the structure's concrete foundation proved to be leaking, which interrupted construction for eight weeks.

The third-generation nuclear plant, which is to be based on European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) technology, is to use the latest nuclear technology that engineers claim provides greater energy, security and reduced waste.

Finland has mooted the idea of building a sixth nuclear plant.

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World's largest nuke plant closed for months
Tokyo, Aug 10, 2007
UN inspectors said Friday that the world's largest nuclear plant in Japan will be closed for months, weeks after being hit by an earthquake.

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