Before construction of nuclear facility
The first stage of a new nuclear power plant project is the environmental impact assessment. The aim is to reduce or completely prevent the adverse environmental impacts of the project. After this, the nuclear facility project can apply for a decision-in-principle from the Government.
Environmental impact assessment
Prior to the application for a decision-in-principle, new nuclear facility projects are subject to the performance of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) pursuant to environmental legislation. The EIA is a planning tool, the results of which must be taken into account in the licence consideration of the project.
The process consists of two phases: first the operator in charge of the project prepares the programme and then the report. The liaising authority for both stages is the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland. STUK provides the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment with its own statement concerning both the EIA programs and EIA reports.
Planning of land use
Before the detailed plan for the area intended to be the site of the nuclear facility is drawn up and approved, STUK's statement must be obtained. STUK has given several statements on the planning of the locations for new nuclear facilities and on the alterations of plans—at the level of municipal, master and local detailed plans—concerning the sites of current nuclear facilities.
In the planning of a nuclear facility and in the selection of its location, the objective is that the nuclear facility is protected against threats to it and that the damage and threats caused by the facility to its environment are kept to a minimum. The selection of the location must take into account securityafety and emergency arrangements and the effect of the local conditions on safety. The location must be such that the damage and risks the facility causes to its environment are minor and that the facility’s heat removal into the environment can be performed reliably. The general principle is that the facility is located in a sparsely populated area and at a distance from any major population centres. Any activities that could result in an external hazardous situation at the facility are likewise prohibited in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant.
The construction of a nuclear facility requires the Government’s decision-in-principle on the construction of the facility being in the overall interest of society. The Government’s consideration of the decision-in-principle proceeds in accordance with the Nuclear Energy Act. The decision-in-principle is forwarded to the Parliament for its perusal, at which point the Parliament may reverse the decision or decide that it will remain in force as it is. The application may present one or more alternatives in terms of the facility’s location that is to be selected later. This also applies to the type of facility. In order for the Government to issue a positive decision-in-principle, the municipality of location of the planned nuclear power plant must support the project.
The application for a decision-in-principle concerning a nuclear facility includes a description of the facility’s safety systems in principle. At this stage, the facility’s technology and safety is not yet subject to a detailed assessment. Rather, in terms of the Government’s and Parliament’s consideration, the decision is also partly political in nature.
STUK is tasked with preparing a preliminary safety assessment on the application. In the context of the safety assessment, STUK assesses the project’s capacity to meet the requirements provided for by the Nuclear Energy Act and Nuclear Energy Decree and by the Government Decrees issued pursuant to section 82 of the Nuclear Energy Act. When preparing the statement, STUK requests the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Safety and, if necessary, other specialist organizations to provide statements on the assessment.
STUK's statements and safety assessments can be found on the Finnish page.