Development of the principles governing nuclear safety and the methods for implementing it is largely based on extensive international cooperation. This intensive cooperation already started in the middle of the 20th century.
From Finland’s perspective, the most important supranational body is Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community. In the European Union, provisions on the nuclear safety of nuclear facilities are laid down in the Nuclear Safety Directive (2009/71/Euratom), for example. Finland participates in preparing directives in this field as part of the Council’s working groups.
The Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD (NEA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which belongs to the UN family of organisations, also play an important role in the international cooperation.
The licence procedure pursuant to the Nuclear Energy Act is the foundation for the different phases of nuclear facilities and nuclear energy projects and for ensuring their safety. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is in charge of the licence procedure and preparations. The government grants the licences. On the national level, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), operating under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, is responsible for the supervision of nuclear safety in Finland.
Nuclear safety research increases Finnish expertise
In Finland, nuclear energy research is conducted by research institutes, universities and power companies utilising nuclear energy. A significant part of public research is conducted in the research programmes funded by the National Nuclear Waste Management Fund (VYR), which cover both the nuclear safety of nuclear facilities and the nuclear waste management. The VYR research programmes are autonomous and based on fixed terms. Research has been conducted like this for almost two decades.
Two VYR research programmes were launched in 2019: the Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Power Plant Safety (SAFIR2022) and the Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Waste Management (KYT2022). Both research programmes run until the end of 2022. Besides producing scientific and technical results, the programmes aim to maintain and develop Finnish expertise in the field. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is responsible for the management of the programmes and the application procedure. The plan is to merge the projects in 2023.
Finnish operators participate actively in the international nuclear safety research. Collaboration takes place within the following programmes and organisations, among others: the European Union’s (Euratom) framework programmes for research (both fission and fusion research), the Nordic Nuclear Safety Research programme (NKS), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).