Latest Olkiluoto EPR Delay Puts Project 8 Years Behind Original Schedule

An EPR reactor under construction by an AREVA-Siemens consortium in Finland may not start operating until 2016, two years later than its revised start date in 2014, Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said on Monday. Construction of the Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) unit began in May 2005, and the new possible start date could put it eight years behind its initial schedule.

The utility estimated that the reactor, the first of its kind when construction began, would not be ready for regular electricity production in 2014 as announced by the plant supplier last year because its instrumentation and control (I&C) design "has not proceeded as planned." TVO admitted it had not yet received a schedule update from the consortium but said it continued to cooperate with the supplier.

"Although TVO is not pleased with the situation and repeating challenges with the project scheduling, the works are proceeding at the Olkiluoto 3 site," it said. About 75% of the installation works have been completed and the major components have reportedly been installed at OL3. The first systems at the turbine plant have also been commissioned.

In a statement on Monday, AREVA’s reactors and services division said the consortium "has asked for significantly more active cooperation from TVO in order to obtain the final approval of the detailed I&C architecture. The AREVA-Siemens consortium regrets that TVO continues to not fulfill its obligations to allow for the project to advance properly." The nuclear component manufacturer pointed out that the EPR I&C had already been approved by the French and British nuclear safety authorities.

"AREVA’s long-term experience in the construction of third generation nuclear reactors has shown that working hand in hand with the customers is a key factor to success. In China, the construction of the Taishan 1 & 2 EPR advances twice as fast as the Finnish project," it said.

At the end of 2003, TVO signed a €3 billion ($3.7 billion) turnkey contract with AREVA-Siemens for construction of the EPR nuclear power unit designated as the third unit at Olkiluoto. Construction started on the plant in May 2005, with completion originally scheduled for 2009. Commercial operations at the $4 billion OL3 were later postponed until 2014 because the project has been consistently plagued with faulty materials and planning problems since construction began.

In 2008, TVO alleged the AREVA-Siemens consortium contracted to build the plant was “naturally responsible” for the time schedule and for the acceleration measures required for keeping the schedule, as well as liable for any possible cost increases resulting from the delay. AREVA argued that, confronted with construction delays, the consortium had convinced TVO that a number of measures were required to accelerate and improve the program, and that TVO was chiefly responsible for implementing those measures.

In July 2012, an international arbitration court ordered the Finnish utility to release €125 million ($155 million) of withheld payments to the consortium, funds that included accrued interest and legal expenses.

TVO owns and operates two nuclear power plant units—Olkiluoto 1 and Olkiluoto 2—in the municipality of Eurajoki on the west coast of Finland. The utility is considering building a fourth reactor on site and announced on Jan. 31 that it had received bids from AREVA for an EPR, GE Hitachi for an ESBWR, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power for an APR1400, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for an APWR, and Toshiba for an ABWR.

For a look at recent developments in nuclear I&C around the world, see “ THE BIG PICTURE: Nuclear I&C” in the February issue of POWER.

Sources: POWERnews, TVO, AREVA

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)