Fennovoima’s Nuclear Safety Director Janne Liuko talks about his passion for VVER technology, his career path and his support of nuclear power.
Curiosity is what drives Janne Liuko, whose career has gone from strength to strength in recent years. After joining Fennovoima as a Project Engineer in 2011, this August Liuko landed a permanent position as Nuclear Safety Director and now manages a team of over fifty experts. He says that being open and interested in what is happening in the company can yield impressive results.
“I often encourage people to be active and have a questioning mindset. It’s also important to be curious about history and understand why things are as they are. When you are interested, you can understand how you can contribute.”
The Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant (NPP) project goes in line with the core values of Janne Liuko, who has worked in the nuclear industry for more than 10 years, at Fortum, STUK and Fennovoima.
“I have had a passion for VVER technology since my summer job in radiation protection at Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant. In that job I had a chance to literally get a close connection to the Russian technology, as my duties included tasks where I even went inside steam generators and the pressurizer during an outage. For a nuclear professional, it’s exciting to be part of building an NPP at a greenfield site.”
Project benefits the whole country
In addition to professional growth, Liuko values Fennovoima’s contribution to Finland as a whole.
“Finland imports a lot of its electricity from other countries. Domestic production would make more sense for the national economy and security of supply.”
He points out that nuclear power is not only a reliable way to make Finland less dependent on imported energy, but can also help to combat climate change.
“Nuclear energy is clean; it has practically no CO² emissions. Nuclear power is a necessary part of meeting the world’s rising demand in electricity and the need to reduce CO² emissions. Nuclear energy is needed for future generations.”
Janne Liuko points out that up to half of the costs of the project are related to nuclear safety.
“We have a strong design from a safety perspective. Most years the plant will operate at full power as planned throughout the year. If there is some disturbance, the design is so robust that the disturbance will be mostly evened out by the characteristic features of the design and normal operation systems and operation will continue at full power. In rare cases the safety systems will start and bring the plant to a safe state. In addition to active systems, we have passive safety systems that act as an additional layer in the defense-in-depth.”
Liuko also mentions redundancy and diversity in safety equipment.
“Most of the safety systems in our plant will most likely never be used, except in planned tests. Despite that, we put around 90 % of our engineers’ effort into reviewing and assessing these safety systems. This says something about how serious we are when safety is concerned.”
Working on construction license
At this stage, Fennovoima is sending technical documentation to the Finnish regulator STUK.
Now Fennovoima has finalized the plant level conceptual design documents. It has taken a long time because Finland has special requirements. For example, the company needs to show to authorities how the main actors of the project are organized and how they are managed. These "specialties of Finland" have turned out to be challenging for the plant supplier. What comes next, is more detailed technical documentation that the supplier – RAOS Project – is more experienced at.
“We have seen almost all of the system level design documentation, and the technical content of the material is good. However, there are still some open issues that the plant supplier needs to solve before we can go on. Formalizing documentation, ensuring the design integrity, and review all take time.”
Fennovoima has teams of experts from different disciplines and departments who evaluate safety aspects. The experts make individual assessments, then meet and discuss their findings. After that they ask for more information from the supplier or present their views so that the supplier can make changes and propose solutions.
“One of the key reasons for interdisciplinary teams is to get different points of view. Experts of different backgrounds and expertise will notice different aspects of the same issues. This works as a synthesis. For safety assessments, we have about five different teams, which have all been rather efficient.”
Moving to Pyhäjoki in the future
In parallel to design assessment, Fennovoima is building infrastructure at the construction site. Quite soon the whole organization will relocate to the Pyhäjoki region, so people will need office spaces and other facilities.
Fennovoima’s future move to Pyhäjoki will be in line with Liuko’s love for nature, sports and outdoor activities.
“All my family likes to go hiking in the forest and are keen orienteers. Even my almost-two-year-old daughter enjoys ‘studying’ maps and can do this for a long time. We also enjoy cross-country skiing, and my daughter has her first pair of skis already.”
Liuko thinks of the future with optimism and resolve.
“It is fascinating to try to imagine yourself walking in Fennovoima’s operating plant one day. That gives me inspiration and it feels great to be part of the project!”.