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Siemens loses half a billion in Olkiluoto – Problems surface in France

31.03.2008 Lauri Myllyvirta

The extra costs of problems and delays in Olkiluoto nuclear project to Siemens can top EUR500 million, the brokerage company CAI Cheuvreux has estimated (1). Siemens, who recently issued a profit warning, have themselves said that the losses are “not insignificant”. Siemens share price has fallen by 25 % in two weeks.

The Olkiluoto reactor project is estimated to be 1.5 billion over budget in total. Who ultimately pays the bill will probably have to fought out in court, but French taxpayers are likely to bear the brunt of the costs. In addition, Finnish electricity users will lose billions of euros because of the delay (2).

Greenpeace energy campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta warned:
“The Olkiluoto 3 project was based on an unrealistic cost and construction time estimates, that made the alternatives look too expensive. New nuclear project proposed in Finland are building on equally inflated assumptions and in the future any extra expenses would certainly be charged on Finns.”

In France it has been exposed that the EPR reactor under construction in Flamanville is ridden by exactly the same kinds of problems as the one built in Finland. (2) French authorities have discovered that the construction firm Bouygues has overlooked and failed to meet safety requirements, leading to quality failures in reactor base slab.

Myllyvirta said:
”The problems in France confirm that the cost overruns and safety problems experienced in Olkiluoto are not a singular case. Delays and failures to meet prerequired levels of safety have been the rule rather than the exception in new nuclear projects.

In the worst case, mistakes made during construction can cause dangerous situations years later. An example is the incident in Forsmark, Sweden in 2006. A faulty transformer had been installed more than then years prior to the event and gone and gone undetected thereafter, until it caused the backup power system to fail after electricity supply to the reactor was interrupted.

More media stories

(1) Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Siemens und das finnische

(2) Elfi Oy: Olkiluoto 3:n myöhästyminen tulee kalliiksi pohjoismaisille
(3) The letter by the French nuclear safety authority ASN