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Regulator endorses continued operation of Loviisa plant

Fortum is capable of continuing to safely operate the Loviisa nuclear power plant until 2050, Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) has told the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM). The government is expected to issue a decision on extending the two-unit plant’s operating licence in the coming months.

The Loviisa plant – comprising two VVER-440 type pressurised water reactors – was the first nuclear power plant in Finland and currently provides more than 10% of the country’s electricity. Loviisa unit 1 began commercial operation in 1977, with unit 2 following in 1981. The operating licences for the units were renewed in 1998 and 2007, respectively.

Fortum submitted an application in March 2022 to TEM to operate both units until the end of 2050. The current operating licences expire at the end of 2027 and 2030, respectively. The company has also applied for a licence to operate the low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste disposal facility located at the Loviisa site until 2090.

The Finnish government is now reviewing Fortum’s application. It has requested statements from several authorities, organisations and municipalities in the affected area, and provided citizens and communities with an opportunity to express their opinions. The government will issue its operating licence decision based on those statements.

In its statement to TEM, STUK said Fortum has “demonstrated that it is able to continue operating both units of the Loviisa nuclear power plant safely even after the expiry of the current licence period”. The regulator added: “The licensee has the required capabilities, procedures, competence and resources to continue safe operations and ageing management.”

STUK also said the utility has “demonstrated in its application and in its safety assessment that it is possible to continue the final disposal safely within the current scope”.

“As a result of the Loviisa power plant’s continuous improvement of safety and ageing management, the power plant is in good condition and the lifetime extension is possible,” said Sasu Valkamo, vice president of the Loviisa plant. “Throughout its history, the power plant’s equipment, systems and structures have been modernised and renovated.”

Fortum noted that STUK continuously oversees the timely and compliant implementation of its safety improvement measures. The Loviisa plant’s periodic safety review is conducted every ten years in accordance with Finland’s Nuclear Energy Act. Fortum is scheduled to submit its next safety assessment to STUK in 2030. The safety of the final disposal facility is assessed in accordance with the Nuclear Safety Act at 15-year intervals.

Source: World Nuclear News