The licence procedure in accordance with the Nuclear Energy Act is preceded by an environmental impact assessment, as laid down in the act on environmental impact assessment procedure (252/2017). The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is the coordinating authority of the environmental impact assessment procedures for nuclear facility projects referred to in the Nuclear Energy Act.
The construction of a nuclear facility of considerable general significance requires the Finnish government’s decision-in-principle stating that the construction of a nuclear facility is in line with the overall good of society and safe. Before the government’s decision-in-principle, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment obtains a preliminary safety assessment from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and a statement from the Ministry of the Environment as well as from the municipal council of the municipality intended to be the site of the facility and from its neighbouring municipalities. In addition to this, the ministry must arrange a public hearing related to the project, which will give an opportunity for citizens to participate in decision-making.
As the government processes the decision-in-principle, it will particularly consider the need for the nuclear facility project with respect to the country’s energy supply, the suitability of the intended site, the nuclear facility’s effects on the environment and arrangements for the nuclear fuel and waste management. The parliament may revoke or accept the decision.
The construction, use, and decommissioning of a nuclear facility are all subject to licences granted by the government. Also, operations on mining and ore preparation aiming at producing uranium or thorium are subject to licensing. The terms for granting a licence include that the safety requirements laid down in legislation are fulfilled, and that the safety of employees and the population and environmental protection are considered appropriately.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and the Ministry of the Environment give statements for the licence applications. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority’s statement and safety assessment play a significant role in the preparation of an application decision, as they must be favourable regarding the assessment of nuclear safety. Authorities, municipalities, communities and citizens must be reserved an adequate opportunity to express their opinions on the project.
Further information: Jorma Aurela