Greenpeace briefs Energy Commissioner on safety concerns ahead of Finnish nuclear plant visit

Press release - June 1, 2007
Brussels/Helsinki, International — Greenpeace met EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs this morning in Helsinki to brief him on safety violations at the Olkiluoto-3 nuclear power plant construction site, ahead of a site visit by the Commissioner later today.

Activists from Greenpeace 80 metres up a 100-metre high crane at the construction site of Olkiluoto-3, Finland's fifth nuclear reactor. Greenpeace is calling on TVO, the company that ordered the reactor, to make public all documents describing the 1,000 reported quality problems

The environmental group presented Mr Piebalgs with a technical report by an independent analyst describing potential safety implications of sub-standard manufacturing methods and a poor quality assurance regime on the construction project. The pressure of a fixed budget and tight timetable appears to have led to some components being installed in the plant that do not meet predefined regulatory criteria, thus threatening safety. [1]

The €3-billion flagship project at Olkiluoto is the first nuclear reactor to be built in Europe in more than a decade. It will be the largest reactor ever built, with a capacity of 1600MW. When construction began in 2005, the nuclear industry heralded a 'new wave' of nuclear build. Two years on, the promotional hype has given way to excuses: the project is now 18 months behind schedule, an estimated €700M over budget, and is the subject of a European Commission probe into unlawful subsidies from French export guarantee agency COFACE. [2]

Greenpeace activists have been occupying the largest crane at the site since Monday, to draw attention to the safety violations and call for the release of additional safety data that plant owner TVO refuses to reveal. Greenpeace is also calling on TVO (Teollisuuden Voima Oy), a Finnish electricity generating company, to drop plans for further nuclear projects in favour of investing in clean, safe energy options.

"We are pleased that Mr Piebalgs heard our concerns, but we remain very worried that the safety regime at Olkiluoto will not improve" said Ms Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace Nordic energy campaigner, after the meeting ended. "It is vital that everyone learns from the mistakes made at Olkiluoto. The Finnish nuclear industry aims to maintain an illusion of cheap and safe nuclear energy with misleading and false information. Nuclear power is not needed to fight climate change; with the right political support for renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, we can and must phase it out."

Commissioner Piebalgs is in Finland as part of an EU tour to boost support for a new energy and climate strategy adopted in March, which includes targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, boosting the share of renewable energy in the EU to 20% and increasing energy efficiency. Greenpeace reminded Mr Piebalgs that the worst effects of climate change can be avoided and nuclear power phased out, through ensuring that renewable energy sources and energy efficiency are promoted effectively. [3]

Other contacts:

Kaisa Kosonen (in Helsinki), Greenpeace Nordic energy campaigner, tel + 358 50 3688 488
Mikael Sjövall, (in Helsinki) Press officer tel +358 50 3696 202


[1] “Progress and Quality Assurance Regime at the EPR Construction at Olkiluoto; Safety Implications of Problems Encountered” by Dr Helmut Hirsch is available at
and a 2-page summary of this report is available here:

[2] The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into unlawful Olkiluoto subsidies in October 2006, following complaints by Greenpeace and others in 2004. The investigation centres on an export guarantee offered by COFACE, the French export credit agency. If the Commission confirms that the state aid is illegal, then the subsidies’ beneficiaries will have to refund the money. Whilst the loan guarantee is provided to TVO (the Finnish company), nonetheless it also helps the French state-owned nuclear firm Areva, which is the principal contractor on the project.

[3] Greenpeace also presented Commissioner Piebalgs with a copy of Greenpeace-commissioned report Energy Revolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook (specifically the OECD Europe edition) that shows how the world can ensure a 50% in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through the massive promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources while also phasing out nuclear power.