Safety scandals
Climate bluff
Cheap nuclear
Next steps
Act now!

Home > Safety scandals >

Olkiluoto secrecy prompts immediate response – Bouygues continues safety violations also in France

20.08.2008 Lauri Myllyvirta

Greenpeace is shocked by evidence presented by Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE yesterday, showing that Olkiluoto nuclear construction workers have been coerced not to report nuclear safety violations.

– Supervision of the nuclear site has failed catastrophically. Workers are being intimidated to shut up and the Finnish authorities fail to intervene even when they are aware of the problems. The ministry responsible for nuclear safety cannot be contented with another memo, but it needs to immediately end all construction work and bring in an independent group of inspectors, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta demanded.

– The problems at Olkiluoto 3 clearly show that the risks of nuclear power are not in control even in Finland. Licensing for new reactors must be stopped, Myllyvirta continued.

Greenpeace revealed a week ago that the company responsible for construction in Olkiluoto, Bouygues, has violated basic safety procedures in Olkiluoto. In the meantime, Bouygues has also been caught for illicit practices in Flamanville, France, where the same French EPR reactor model is being built.

According to information compiled by YLE, the confidentiality rule that binds employees and subcontractors of Areva is interpreted in a way that covers safety problems and employees’ rights violations alike. In addition, Bouygues management has specifically and repeatedly forbidden their employees to report quality problems to Areva and TVO inspectors. Workers breaking the code of silence have been punished with official warnings and even dismissal.

Greenpeace presented a week ago a set of documents showing, that the reactor building in Olkiluoto was welded for at least half a year without required welding guidelines. Mandatory testing of welds was not done either and there has been no qualified supervision of welding works for months. Bouygues has already admitted to the latter violation. The defects concern also load bearing welds that are critical for the strength and durability of the structure.

The results of the latest inspection at the nuclear construction site at Flamanville, France, have been published. The inspectors detected severe defects in the quality control of the steel liner of the reactor building. An unsuitable welding method has been used, qualified personnel has not attended checkups, errors have been tried to cover secretly and the liner has been stored in conditions that expose it to corrosion. The company responsible for the reactor building is the same in Finland and France, Bouygues.

The French authorities have taken a stricter stance towards the neglect of nuclear safety than their Finnish counterparts. Construction was suspended in Flamanville for a month in summer because of repeated violations. In Finland, similar problems have went on for years without any such intervention. In addition, information on detected safety problems is published online. The Finnish Nuclear Safety Authority STUK still refuses to publish even a list of the 2200 quality problems detected in Olkiluoto, despite numerous requests.

Lauri Myllyvirta, nuclear campaigner: +358 50 3625 981
Juha Aromaa, communications director: +358 50 369 6202