Finland is moving ahead with construction of Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki near Oulu and sanctions against Russia will not have any effect on the project, Fennovoima Project Director Minna Forsström told New Europe in Moscow.

“I think the whole Europe is so dependent on the Rosatom technology, fuel. It could be very challenging to other countries as well if there were sanctions in this field,” she said in an interview on the sidelines of the Atomexpo conference on June 19.

According to the schedule agreed with Rosatom, Hanhikivi 1 plant will produce electricity in 2024, she said.

Forsström noted that the Russian state corporation is responsible for the technology. “So we are the licensee; we are the holder of the license and our role is to review and approve of the documents pass it to STUK,” Forsström said, referring to Finland’s nuclear safety watchdog.

Fennovoima and RAOS Project, subsidiary of Rusatom Energy International, have a plant supply contract for the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant. “It will be a turnkey delivery,” she said. “Then they have a general designer which is in charge of the design – Atomproekt. Atomproekt has to do the design and RAOS Project passes it on to us. We review, approve and send it over to STUK,” she said. “So we do not design. It’s not our role; we’re not a designer and basically if we take the role of the reviewer we can’t even do the design,” Forsström said.

“The operation, the technical aspect, refueling. The basic technology comes from them (the Russians),” she said.

Hanhikivi 1 will have a Russian-designed VVER-1200 PWR reactor, with a capacity of 1200 MW. During a press trip in May 2016, we visited Pyhäjoki where the area was closed off and the topsoil was removed.

“We have started a big excavation to some extent and the major part at the moment is the sea works,” Forsström said. “We do a lot of dredging and blasting there in order to have a small harbour for us and also the corridors for the cooling waters and then the tunnels,” she said. “At this moment, they’re currently doing has all the required permits, which are municipal/local civil work permits. There is a difference with other countries because we have zoning permits and we have three different levels and all these say that this land is for the nuclear power plant purposes. We have already gone through the approval process for these civil construction permits. These are granted by the municipality and are non-nuclear related civil works,” the Fennovoima Project Director said, noting that “EU processes have been completed”.

During Atomexpo in June 2017, we visited the Novovoronezh nuclear plant, which also houses VVER reactors.

But Forsström explained that Unit 6, which is already in operation at Novovoronezh and Unit 7, which now under commissioning, will have some differences with the Hanhikivi 1 reactor.

“There are two streams of these nuclear power plants developed. The St Petersburg and the Moscow and Novovoronezh is with the Moscow design and we are with the St Petersburg. So there are more similarities, of course, with the Leningradskaya. Some of the passive systems are different. They are both VVER but there are small distinctions. In Novovoronezh you see huge pipelines on top off the cupola. We will not have those, for example,” she said, adding that it is also more similar to Belorusskaya NPP.

Forsström told New Europe that Hanhikivi 1 would also incorporate all the latest safety features that are required after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Turning to terrorism threats, she stressed that all countries have a set of rules for the security requirements of the nuclear power plant and that includes anti-terrorism measures.

Asked about hacking, she said these major solutions have been taken already into account a few years back when setting these security requirements by authorities. “So we do have to have restrictions for the Internet or the outer world in nuclear power plant. Then there is quite many details which are defined and, needless to say, this is very classified information and this is not to handle in the media but there are a lot of these instructions as well,” Forsström said.

Asked about the Paris climate accord, she said, “I see the Paris Agreement favours the nuclear because it is a non-carbon solution. Anyhow, I believe that since there is and there shall be quite a big demand of the electricity there would have to be other renewables and nuclear in order to have these results that were rectified the Paris Agreement,” Forsström said.

Regarding US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, she said, “I think that the responsibility of the other countries is now bigger”. She noted that there are nuclear plants in the US but “There is also a lot debate about their future. Trump is not my biggest headache”.

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