Finnish Nuclear Agency Finds Some Flaws in Olkiluoto Safety

Friday, August 29, 2008

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority said today the supervision and ''safety culture'' of welding at the Olkiluoto-3 nuclear plant did not meet all of its standards and must be improved.

The agency, known as STUK, demanded changes after inspecting the site and interviewing workers this week, according to a statement posted on its Web site. The regulator said it found no quality problems that threaten the durability of the welds.

Environmental group Greenpeace said earlier this month that builders had not followed proper procedures for welding, prompting the government to ask for reports on inspection procedures and standards for finished work. France's Bouygues SA and Areva SA are building the plant for Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, which owns two other reactors at the site.

''We always take feedback from authorities seriously,'' TVO said in a statement on its Web site. The utility will report to STUK in a month on its progress in implementing the improvements.

STUK rebutted claims made on Finnish television news program Ajankohtainen kakkonen on Aug. 26 that welding procedures and supervision in earlier stages of the project didn't meet standards.

Construction on Olkiluoto-3 began in spring 2005, and is now about two years behind schedule. The plant, the first of a new design that is supposed to improve safety, is scheduled to begin producing electricity for Finnish industry in 2011.

TVO should make sure all welders have guidelines and know how to use them, and are able to bring up quality problems, STUK said in its report. It should also make sure that expert technical help is available and ensure workers understand they can report safety and quality issues at the site without being charged with violating confidentiality requirements, the agency said.

Addressing specific criticisms made by Greenpeace, STUK said the load-bearing welds were made by qualified welders using approved guidelines and were tested, inspected and approved before concrete was poured over them.

Posted in |