Finland’s nuclear safety watchdog; STUK had to face a tough decision last week. Greenpeace had published evidence that basic construction standards had been violated in the welding of the reactor building of the European Pressurized Reactor prototype in Olkiluoto. STUK had first categorically denied the claims but then had to give up and conduct a special inspection at the site.
The inspection showed that work had been started before required tests and paperwork were done, revealed inadequate use of welding guidelines, unveiled examples of employees being coerced not to speak to inspectors about safety problems and insufficient knowledge of how to report the problems, lack of competent welding oversight and a serious language problem, just as we had told.
You would think that a watchdog would be proud to announce they have detected and started to address all these problems. STUK, however, reacted more like a nuclear industry PR agency, choosing not to mention any of these problems before being asked and even then dodging the issues. They went on complaining that their 3-day inspection was far too time-consuming and costly, setting the companies back by EUR100.000, according to the head of STUK.
I cannot say I feel bad for forcing them to do their job, if only for three days.
By the way; on the very same day of STUK’s press conference; Areva released its half-year results. The presentation included long quotes from the STUK including the love letter from STUK to Areva.
(This a guest post by Lauri Myllyvirta, nuclear campaigner based in Finland for Greenpeace Nordic. You can find out more about Olkiluoto 3 at olkiluoto.info.)