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Finland's TVO challenges approval of Areva bailout

Latest update : 13/09/2017

© AFP | The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) reactor at Olkiluoto, or OL3, is now expected to open nine years late in 2018.

PARIS (AFP) - 

Finnish utility TVO said Wednesday it would appeal the EU's approval of a bailout of Areva, saying it did not provide adequate guarantees the French nuclear giant would be able to complete construction of a reactor in Finland.

Areva, together with German engineering group Siemens, has been building in Finland since 2005 what was meant to be a showcase of next-generation nuclear power, but which has instead showcased the industry's chronic delays and cost overruns.

The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) reactor at Olkiluoto, or OL3, is now expected to open nine years late in 2018.

The mounting bill for the reactor, plus the crippling blow to the sector's prospects dealt by the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, led the French government in 2015 to launch a restructuring of the firm that would see parts of it split up and sold off.

In January, the European Commission gave the go-ahead to the French government to invest 4.5 billion euros to salvage its operations, which it did in July.

"TVO is not opposed in principle to the intervention by the French State in favour of the Areva Group, provided that TVO's needs for OL3 EPR are fully taken into account, which is currently not the case," the Finnish company said in a statement.

It said the French government's bailout of Areva "does not provide sufficient guarantees to TVO that the necessary financial, technical and human resources are to be made available for the OL3 EPR project."

TVO added its concern that the bailout "does not ensure that Areva is able to meet all current and future liabilities during the last phases of project completion and until the end of the guarantee period."

Areva said the TVO challenge at the General Court of the European Union wouldn't affect the calendar for finishing up Olkiluoto or its restructuring.

"The restructuring of Areva is nearly complete", an Areva spokesman told AFP, adding that "TVO's action won't change the timing."

The restructuring left Areva with the obligations to complete the Olkiluoto reactor, while its reactor and nuclear fuel businesses were sold off or transferred into new companies.

Areva and TVO are claiming billions of euros in damages from one another in arbitration proceedings.

© 2017 AFP