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French-built Finnish nuclear reactor to go on stream nine years late

media The Oikiluoto EPR in Finland Reuters/Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva

A jinxed new-generation French-built nuclear reactor for Finland is to begin producing electricity in 2018, nine years late, energy company Areva announced on Monday. An expert tells RFI that the original deadline was too ambitious.

The expected losses arising from delays on construction of the plant are estimated to be 3.9 billion euros.

Areva, a state-controlled world leader in nuclear power technology, is building the facility, known as an EPR, at Olkiluoto in Finland.

Finnish electricity group TVO, which commissioned the project, expressed surprise at the length of the newly announced delay.

Areva’s four-to-five-year deadline was never realistic, nuclear energy expert Lionel Toccoen argues.

“I do not understand how a Finnish power company that knows how to operate a nuclear power plant, could have believed that the EPR could be built in five years,” he told RFI. “They are also responsible.”

Four EPRs are under construction at the moment.

Two, in China, will be finished on time but the two in Europe are behind schedule.

“In any major project, you have something called industrial engineering,” Toccoen points out. “It’s important that it is done by people who are used to it … Areva has always wanted to do this on nuclear power plants but had never done it before. But you can’t just make it up as you go along.”

Areva welcomed the chance to do so on the Finnish project and that has been the source of the problems, according to Toccoen.

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