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Finland picks nuclear site

7 Oct 11 Nuclear developer Fennovoima has chosen Pyhäjoki in northern Finland as the site of its nuclear power plant following four years of assessments to whittle down the initial 40 prospects.

Pyhäjoki is located in North Ostrobothnia and the plant will be constructed on Hanhikivi peninsula on the coast of Bothnian Bay.

Fennovoima started in summer 2007 with almost 40 alternative sites. The number of alternatives was decreased gradually based on assessments and in December 2009 Fennovoima ended up with two alternatives, both located in Northern Finland: the municipalities of Pyhäjoki and Simo.

Safety, technical feasibility, environmental matters, construction costs and schedule were the main factors examined in the final selection, as well as the ability of the region to support a project that will bring thousands of people to work and use services there. Hundreds of details were assessed within these key factors.

As a result of the assessments, it was concluded that both Simo and Pyhäjoki are feasible for accommodating a nuclear power plant and that the plant can be implemented safely and in an environmentally feasible manner on both sites. The regions of both municipalities are suitable also in respect of their socio-economic structure and regarding the general attitude of the people. The choice was not based on one single factor. Pyhäjoki was selected as the preferred choice on the basis of an overall consideration assessing the site as a whole.

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Several technical features in Pyhäjoki were more favorable. Assessments show that the bedrock in Pyhäjoki is more solid. This means that operations like excavation works are easier to carry out. In Pyhäjoki, seismic design values are lower than in Simo. This has an impact on the design of the structures, systems and equipment of the plant. The length needed for cooling water tunnels is about 1km shorter in Pyhäjoki. In addition to these technical features, Pyhäjoki's benefit is that there are very few permanent residents and summer houses near the power plant site, which means that the construction will cause less disturbance for the neighborhood.

Fennovoima will now continue the planning, working together with the municipality, authorities and the plant suppliers and preparing applications for licences and permits.  More detailed bedrock, environmental and water studies will be carried out on the Hanhikivi peninsula. 

Preparatory works on Hanhikivi will begin at the end of 2012 at the earliest. Fennovoima sent bid invitations for Areva and Toshiba in July 2011 and the plant supplier will be chosen in 2012 to 2013.

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