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Greenpeace discovers safety procedures in disarray at Finland's nuclear construction site

Greenpeace demonstration in Olkiluoto, Finland

Olkiluoto, Finland, Monday 28 May 2007 - Activists from Greenpeace block the entrance to the construction site of a new nuclear reactor in Olkiluoto. Photo by: Greenpeace.

The construction of a nuclear plant in Olkiluoto, Finland, has so far been pretty miserable. The construction is 2-3 years behind schedule, 70% over the budget, experiencing 1500 construction defects and recently had do deal with a damaging fire. But it's getting worse.

Greenpeace today found out from leaked documents that the French construction company Areva is "failing to implement vital safety procedures" that, according to Greenpeace, cannot guarantee the reactors safety.

"The documents show that, during the construction of the steel framework in the base of the the world's largest nuclear reactor, welders had no specifications as to how the welding should be properly performed for an entire year and, furthermore, tests to ensure the quality of the welding have not been carried out."

"Bouygues, an Areva sub-contractor, has had no qualified welding supervisors at the site for over a year and still does not have any. Staff are given a mere two weeks’ training instead of having the international standard university degree. The company also listed people who had not worked in the role as welding supervisors."

"Areva, the Finnish nuclear safety authority STUK, and the country’s electricity generator TVO have all been aware of these problems and yet the necessary vital safeguards have not been implemented. Poor welding could cause or exacerbate a nuclear accident – both the reactor cooling system and the reactor itself are mounted on the steel framework. If this is how the construction has proceeded so far, what can we expect when it comes to the installation of reactor components or electronic safety systems?"

Greenpeace demands that the construction of the nuclear plant must be halted and that "those responsible for this misconduct should be held to account." Greenpeace also pointed out that "public safety should always be put before profit and poor procedures."

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