Documents acquired by Greenpeace show that AREVA, which hopes to sell a reactor to Ontario, has failed to respect basic safety procedures during the construction of its prototype European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at the Olkiluoto site in Finland.
The documents show Areva has carried out welding for more than a year without approved quality control procedures, raising concerns on the integrity of the reactor building in accident situations.
The EPR reactor is already 2-3 years behind schedule, 2 billion dollars over budget and recently suffered serious damage after a fire at the site.
AREVA’s main competitor for building a reactor in Ontario, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) suffered a series of embarrassments recently as well, including abandoning the construction of the Maple reactors at Chalk River and exposing a worker to high levels of radiation after losing a radioactive part at the Bruce A nuclear plant.
The problems plaguing the construction of the EPR in Finland should be a warning sign for Ontario.
No matter the design, new nuclear stations will be accompanied by delays and cost over-runs. And the push to build reactors quickly is going to lead to careless construction, increasing accident risks when new stations come online.