NUCLEONICS WEEK - January 17, 2002 4

By a narrow margin, Finland's government is expected to
approve in principle today (Jan. 17) an application for a fifth
nuclear reactor, bringing a new unit a step closer to reality
after years of debate and disappointment for the country's
nuclear industry.
If the government proceeds with the scheduled vote and
says yes, it is technically not a sign that it favors a new reactor,
only that it thinks the issue should be referred to the
Eduskunta (parliament) for discussion. Eduskunta members
would approve or reject building the reactor. Under Finnish
law, they can only vote yes or no on the government's referral,
with no modifications.
The Eduskunta is expected to take up the issue in the
spring. But even Leena Luhtanen, the chairman of the powerful
Economic Committee which must bring a proposal to the
full Eduskunta, says the vote there is too close to call.
Increasing nuclear capacity in Finland has been in the
political spotlight since the early 1990s. In 1993, the
Eduskunta rejected an application to build a fifth unit. After
that, nuclear utilities bided their time, until an application was
finally submitted in November 2000 by Teollisuuden Voima
Oy (TVO), which operates the two Olkiluoto reactors. The
government waited to discuss the application until a lawsuit
filed by a resident of Eurajoki, where Olkiluoto is located,
was settled. That complaint was recently rejected.
The government, and even the Social Democrats who lead
the broad ruling coalition, are split on the nuclear issue. In
their report to the government, officials at the Ministry of
Trade & Industry recommend that the application be approved,
Industrial Counselor Jussi Manninen told Nucleonics
Week. The full report will not be released until after the vote.
Social Democratic Trade & Industry Minister Sinikka
Moenkaere has repeatedly said she favors new nuclear. Prime
Minister Paavo Lipponen, also a Social Democrat, and whose
vote would decides a tie, has also indicated he is in favor.
A third powerful Social Democrat, Foreign Minister
Erkki Tuomioja, although personally opposed to nuclear, has
said he might be willing to accept a new unit as part of a strategy
for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, at least as a transition
to broad-based renewable generation. In recent weeks,
however, Tuomioja has declined to say how he will vote. He
plans to challenge Lipponen for the party leadership in June,
and his stance on nuclear could be decisive in that battle.
Finland's Greens and the Left Party, both represented in
the government, oppose nuclear. However, both of those
parties seem to have agreed internally that instead of taking a
solid line on the issue, ministers and Eduskunta members will
vote their consciences. The Swedish Party is also opposed.
Party member Jan-Erik Enestam, minister for defense and
relations with neighboring countries, has said he will vote
against the application.
Six potential designs have been submitted to TVO, and
reviewed by the Finnish Radiation & Nuclear Safety Authority
(STUK). They are: a 1,360-MW General Electric BWR; a
1,000-MW Westinghouse PWR; a 1,500-MW Westinghouse
Atom BWR; a 1,550-MW Framatome/Siemens PWR; a 977-
MW Siemens BWR; and a 1,070-MW Atomstroyexport
In their review, STUK officials said that all of the designs
would need some modifications to meet the agency's new
safety requirements. In a just-submitted report ordered by the
industry ministry after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the
U.S., STUK said that some additional modifications would be
needed, but that modifications should not pose a problem and
all the designs are still viable.

-Ariane Sains, Stockholm

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