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Areva threatens halt of Olkiluoto construction

31.08.2009 Lauri Myllyvirta

The dispute around enormous financial losses from Olkiluoto reactor project deepened yesterday, when the French nuclear giant Areva published its half-year results. Areva threatened to freeze construction if TVO does not submit to the company’s demands of shouldering a share of the cost. The latest estimate of construction costs reached €5.5 billion, which compares to the price of 2.5 billion originally presented to Finnish public and politicians.

Greenpeace warns that also new reactor projects in Finland are based on completely unrealistic cost estimates. Financial losses and dangerous attempts to cut corners would reoccur if the projects were granted permits. During the last few years, nuclear projects in e.g. US, Canada and South Africa have been cancelled when the price tag has exceeded expectations, often by more than hundred percent.

“The fight over extra costs is a demonstration that international nuclear companies have no intention whatsoever to bear the risk of delays and cost overruns in future reactor projects, which exposes electricity users to huge liabilities,” Greenpeace energy campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta said.

If TVO has to foot a part of the extra bill from Olkiluoto, it can pass the entire cost on to its shareholders, more than half of which are Finnish publicly owned companies. If the company manages to leave all of the costs to Areva-Siemens to cover, they will be ultimately paid for by French and German taxpayers. The nuclear reactor project has relied from the onset on both explicit and implicit public guarantees.