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Finnish, French firms squabble over nuclear plant

HELSINKI, Sept 1 – Two firms developing a nuclear reactor in Finland traded barbs, with Finnish firm TVO on Tuesday rejecting French nuclear giant Areva\’s complaint that it was to blame for delays to the project.

Areva, together with Germany\’s Siemens, is building the plant for electricity firm TVO in Olkiluoto, western Finland. On Monday Areva said its January-June net profit fell 79 percent to 161 million euros (230 million dollars) due to a charge of 550 million euros it had to take for more delays.

Areva blamed the hold up, with provisions now totalling 2.3 billion euros, on TVO and said it would not begin work on the final phases until the Finnish company agreed to new proposals and modifications.

This did not mean it would halt current work, it added.

"We were surprised to read the information Areva released," said Jarmo Tanhua, TVO\’s chief executive, insisting that the French company had not told TVO about any plans to halt or discontinue work.

"TVO has complied with the plant contract and valid nuclear safety methods and expects Areva to do so also. The schedule for the construction site is challenging and Areva\’s public speculation about stopping the works does not make it any easier to keep to it," Tanhua said.

Tanhua told AFP he did not understand why Areva made such comments.

Areva "said that what they said in the press release does not mean stopping work. And that is our message also, construction will not halt," he added.

The nuclear reactor at Olkiluoto is now scheduled to start producing energy in the second half of 2012, more than three years behind its original schedule.

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A judgement on a dispute between Areva, Siemens and TVO over compensation for the delays is pending at the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce.

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