Finland: Rosatom- Fennovoima deal to continue Pyhäjoki NPP project

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In the beginning of July the Finnish "Fennovoima" company announced they are going to sign a contract with Russian "Rosatom" to construct a 1200 MW nuclear plant at Pyhäjoki.

This announcement is not welcomed here. Legal experts say there are problems with this deal: permission given by the parliament was based on 2 alternatives: AREVA (EPR) and Toshiba (ABWR), both 1600 MW units. No environmental assessment was done for the Rosatom alternative. A new permission is needed, otherwise the democratic process written in the nuclear energy law has no real value. The Rosatom deal means a delay to the project, at least one more year.

It seems the Fennovoima management and related political groups do not understand the international news: Rosatom is not a playmate you might want to work with. A good example comes from Bulgaria, where the Belene NPP project was cancelled about a year ago. The situation with Belene was similar to Fennovoima: a big German utility (RWE) left the project and no-one wanted to buy the shares from RWE. Now Rosatom is suing Bulgarian government, claiming for compensation of 1 billion euros!

When E.On left the Fennovoima project, there seems to be no need for a big unit and smaller one was seen as a possible solution. The 34% of shares left by E.On were finally bought back by the Fennovoima, wasting some money from the other shareholders, simultaneously increasing the amount of investment for construction. In total, about 41% of shares are now for sale. The cost rise caused by this is about 69%. Several more shareholders are about to leave the project.

One big shareholder is the Talvivaara Plc, a mining company in the eastern Finland, famous for it's annual dam accidents. In the autumn 2012 the mining company caused the industrial accident in Finland, as the waste pond leaked to the nearby rivers. The waste water contains acids, metals and... uranium tailings. Yes. Talvivaara is the only operational uranium mine in the EU area, and yes, it's operating without permission required by the law.

Recent news tell the mining company has serious financial problems, as the price of their main product, nickel, has fallen during the year. Do we see another shareholder leaving the project? Talvivaara has 60 MW share in the project, this is 3,7% of the original design proposal. It seems the company cannot have the 300 million euros to spend on this project.

Matti Adolfsen