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Finnish TV: Double standards in Olkiluoto

27.08.2008 Lauri Myllyvirta

An Areva subcontractor has cut corners with welding of plates that are used to install the reactor cooling system, according to a reportage aired in Finnish TV. The company prepared two different welding guidelines to mislead authorities and cover up the shortcomings.

More information and photos on Greenpeace nuclear weblog

Wrongly welded?
Weekly current affairs program Ajankohtainen kakkonen
Broadcasted by YLE Channel 2 in Finland.
Tue Aug 26, 2008, 21:00
Partial transcript

Finnish employee of Areva told STUK in an interview about bans on reporting safety violations, demands to forge documents, managers lacking language skills and shortcomings in social security. This information was a complete surprise to the STUK investigator.

Minister of economic affairs Mauri Pekkarinen: If the things the reporter has told me are true, they are extremely serious violations, if not crimes. If this is true.

Interviewer: A Finnish employee of Bouygues has told these things.
Pekkarinen: In any case, we need to check thoroughly whether this is true. I will not deny it but I will not admit either. The supervision must have been so strict that this cannot happen. This is why STUK is now at the construction site, to find out what the culture is inside the organization.

One of the people to be interviewed as a part of STUK’s investigation is the former welding coordinator of Bouygues, Tapio Kettunen.

Interviewer: Last week, Bouygues claimed that openness is their principle. What are you going to tell STUK about the relations between your former employer Bouygues and TVO?

Kettunen: Bouygues being open is a surprising thing to me. Openness has been a big joke so far. It was not possible to take contact with TVO.

Interviewer: How were you banned from doing that?

Kettunen: It was totally clear you will be sacked if you say anything to anyone. If you’re in debt, you don’t think twice about how to deal with things then.

Interviewer: Did you ever get in touch with TVO or Areva representatives?

Kettunen: If I met them at the market place. But not at the construction site.

STUK reported last week that welding has been satisfactory at the construction site. Tapio Kettunen begs to disagree.

Interviewer: You had a phone conversation with STUK last Friday. What did you tell them?

Kettunen: I told them how things are. Welding is not acceptable. The problem are the welding procedure specifications, their use or lack thereof.

Kettunen can present an email between him and the management of Bouygues from Autumn 2006. Kettunen tells the management that the required standard is not being followed at the construction site. He ends the email by writing, “your decision is inappropriate and will lead to expensive repairs and other work during the project.” What was wrong?

Kettunen [pointing to a welding procedure specification]: What I have here is a good example. This is a load bearing weld, must be welded from both sides [about a 130 mm weld is shown on the picture], but if it is welded only from one side like here [another welding procedure specification is shown] and only with a very short seam like here, appr. 20mm, there is a clear difference.
Interviewer: Which one was used in Olkiluoto?
Kettunen: We made a short seam on one side, not the way the standard stipulates.
Interviewer: Why was it done like that?
Kettunen: That I don’t know.
Interviewer: How does this affect the weld?
Kettunen: The way we did it, it doesn’t hold.
Interviewer: A third party organization, in this case Innova, must approve the welding guideline? Did it approve this one?
Kettunen: It did not approve the one we had followed.

Kettunen has written on the side of a welding guideline he had prepared on 12 Sep 2006, i.a. that: “I have signed this WPS against my will and declared that TVO and STUK will not accept this. The purpose of this paper only to cover up a big mistake made by Areva/Bouygues.”

Kettunen will present these same documents to STUK on Tuesday.

Interviewer: Why were things done like this anyway?
Kettunen: This you must ask from somewhere else.
Interviewer: But you were the welding coordinator.
Kettunen: Yes but you need to have a say on how things are done. If you don’t have that, you cannot do it, it’s impossible. Bigger bosses came and told how things are done.

Prof. Jukka Martikainen, Lappeenranta technical university: I think what needs to be done is to stop blaming and showing off and trying to defend oneself, since it clearly seems all things have not gone the way they were meant to originally. First, it would be appropriate for the ministry or someone else to invite all parties around the same table to figure out what the situation is and how to go forward. If it turns out that things cannot be settled like that, then, why not, an independent organization to check the situation.

Pekkarinen: I would still trust more the top experts of STUK who have been on site overseeing these multiple layers of control, their assessment and analysis. They use Finland’s and world’s best experts. I will wait for their assessment and then it is time for Martikainen’s emergency meetings, if ever. We must also remember, that the system we have in Finland is one that experts from the rest of the world are just now coming to study it as a good example of how this kind of a system works. [STUK is having a workshop of some kind]