There are days when you simply run out of words. How to continue to describe the ongoing construction of the flagship OL3 EPR reactor at Olkiluoto, Finland? We’ve done ‘disastrous’, ‘incompetent’ and ‘farce’. Add to those ‘massively over-budget’ and ‘hugely behind schedule’.
We’re at a loss to describe the latest news from the construction site…
The pipes that form the cooling system around the reactor have been partially welded without any supervision. TVO and Areva are right now investigating how much of the work must be redone and what the consequences are.
This pertains to the same pipes whose weld seams have been investigated before. This time the weld seams are not concerned but welding has been performed to cover cosmetic damages on the surface of the pipes. Welding work has not been, however, documented.
If the entire primary coolant piping had to be redone, it would take three years.
The cooling system is the very important bit of the reactor that prevents the thing getting too hot and going into meltdown. Imagine being the press officer for OL3. We’re struggling to think of a more depressing job.
The EPR, if you need reminding, is supposed to be the most advanced reactor on the planet. The top dog. The big man. Numero uno. This is the design – which its owners AREVA are selling around the world – that is, according to the propaganda, going to usher in the so-called nuclear ‘renaissance’ and lead us to a glorious future where nuclear-generated electricity is abundant, cheap, clean and pixies in funny little hats caper around for our entertainment.
And yet here we are again. Fundamental mistakes at Olkiluoto are compounded by the repetition of the same fundamental mistakes. The OL3 project has been notorious from the very beginning for its inability to get something as essential as the reactor’s welding right – non-existent supervision, lack of training and instructions, and poor quality work.
You’d expect a five year old child to learn lessons faster and shake your head in bitter disappointment if they didn’t. You know when kids do something stupid and you have to tell them not to do it, then they do it again, then again, and you think you're going to go insane with frustration? It must be a bit like at OL3.
AREVA however are hailed around the world by gullible leaders and journalists as potential saviours of the human race. Like we said – words have failed us.