Environmental Impacts During the Construction Phase
Construction of a nuclear power plant is a large project in many terms in an extensive area. The construction period, which will take approximately ten years, will have a significant social impact on the municipality of the plant location and in its immediate surroundings.
The health impacts during construction, such as noise, dust, traffic, and exhaust gas emissions, will not cause any significant impacts on people’s health.
Landscape and land use
The construction of the nuclear power plant affects the environment of the site area. The power plant will be placed in a visible area at the tip of a headland reaching out into the open sea and it changes the landscape significantly. During the construction high cranes there will be visible in the landscape from far away and the traffic volume increases.
The beginning of the ground works already has changed the land use in the area of the Hanhikivi headland. The actual site area has been fenced and the access routes in the area have changed. The holiday residences on the western shore are no longer in use, and it is no longer be possible to use the western shore for recreational purposes. Instead, the north and north-east coasts that are significant both ecologically and in terms of recreational use, land use remains largely unchanged. Access to a protected Hanhikivi is still possible.
The most significant effects of the project on the recreation use are connected with fishing and hunting. The sea in front of the Hanhikivi headland is significant both in terms of the fish stock and in terms of fishery and there are professional fishermen whose livelihood the project will affect negatively.
Soil, bedrock and groundwater
The construction works do not have significant impact on soil, bedrock or groundwater. The excavation works decreases the geological value of the area, but representative parts of the bedrock will be left exposed.
The construction works can affect the surface level and pressure of the groundwater and changes in the quality of the groundwater may take place because of the use of explosives in bedrock blasting. The impacts listed above are minor and remain local, only extending to the immediate vicinity of the excavation or grouting site.
Water system and fishing
The construction of the nuclear power plant has local impacts on the water systems and fishery in the area. The coastline around Hanhikivi headland is open and there are not many species of aquatic vegetation. The fish species typically found in the area are those typically found in the whole of the Bay of Bothnia.
The construction activities in the sea cause temporary turbidity of the seawater in a small area but it does not have significant impact on the water quality. The impacts of the turbidity are controlled with continuous measuring. The turbidity of the seawater off the coast of the Hanhikivi headland also naturally increases during storms or periods of heavy rainfall.
Fishing in the construction areas and in their immediate vicinity will not be possible during the hydraulic construction works. The construction activities in the sea area may also drive away fish from a larger area and temporarily influence the migration routes of fish. Excavation, in particular, causes underwater noise that may drive away fish from the area. The construction activities in the sea destroy some whitefish and herring spawning areas in the dredging areas.
The dredging and soil dumping destroy the benthic fauna in the immediate dredging and dumping area, but the fauna will recover fully within a few years. The area has no protected or endangered fauna or underwater vegetation.
Flora, fauna and protected areas
The direct impacts of the project during the construction phase affect the area in which the buildings and structures of the nuclear power plant and various related functions are built. The main part of the construction effort will take place in an area of 1 km2 in the central part of the Hanhikivi headland.
As a result of the construction, the forest and coastal areas change partially into built environment and the species and habitat types found in the immediate environment of the built areas may change over the short or the long term. Construction work may also result in the fragmentation of current continuous shore and forest areas. During the construction phase, the indirect impact of the noise and dust from the construction site and the related traffic, and the vibration from blasts and excavation, will affect the surrounding nature.
The Hanhikivi headland’s nature conservation areas and areas defined as habitat types protected under the Nature Conservation Act remain outside the constructed areas and construction works will not have impact on these areas. The noise zones at the construction site and near the road are relatively small, and the impact of noise on nesting or bird populations is not likely to be significant.
Fennovoima prevents circulation in the site area in order to mitigate impacts on the natural environment. Access to the power plant site’s shoreline areas will be prevented except shorelines where hydraulic construction takes place. Access to any part of the construction site that includes protected species or habitats will also be prevented. Employees will be offered proper training and instructions on how to limit their moving in the environment and in nature conservation areas.
Dusting and emissions from traffic affect the air quality. The impacts are however local and are estimated to have no major impacts on the air quality in the area and in peoples’ health.
The earthwork, traffic at the site, and certain operations, such as rock crushing, will generate dust during the construction of the nuclear power plant. Most dust sources will be located at low elevation levels, so the dust cannot spread far and its impact on the air quality will mainly be limited to the construction site.
The amount of traffic will increase significantly during the construction phase, particularly during the period of the heaviest construction activities. In addition to the exhaust gas emissions, traffic throws up road dust especially in the spring. The impacts of traffic emissions will be very local and their impacts on the air quality will depend, in addition to the emission volumes, on the traffic routes used.
The residential areas by these roads are mostly located so far from the road that the increase in the contaminant concentrations will have no significance. The residential building closest to the new road in the Hanhikivi headland is located approximately 300 meters from the road, while the rest of the residential buildings are located at the distance of some 0.5–1 kilometers.
Emissions from traffic can be decreased by setting a sufficiently low speed limit for the new road to be constructed to the nuclear power plant. Generation of road dust can be decreased by, for example, paving the road with asphalt.
According to noise modeling, the noise caused by the project will remain below the guideline values set for residential areas and areas including holiday residences, both during construction and the operation of the plant. The noise levels may vary greatly depending on the on-going construction phase. The area influenced by noise during construction and operation will be less than one kilometer from the power plant site.
During the heaviest construction phase, the traffic noise from the road leading to the Hanhikivi headland will spread to fairly narrow zones, and there are no residences within the areas affected. The impact of noise on nesting or bird populations is not likely to be significant.
The impact of noise will be reduced for example by means of constructing noise barriers, and guiding and scheduling traffic. An effort is made to direct the traffic routes bypassing the major residential centers and to schedule heavy traffic to run between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and special transportation operations potentially slowing down traffic to take place outside the peak hours of normal traffic. Bus transportation will be arranged for employees in order to reduce the volume of private car traffic.
Waste and waste management
In the construction phase, management of conventional waste will be arranged in accordance with the environmental guidelines so that the impacts of the waste and its treatment on the environment are minimized. The primary objective is to reduce the amount of waste generated. The secondary option is to utilize waste in new applications and in the production of materials or energy. The last option is to appropriately dispose of the waste in a landfill site.
Waste management in the construction phase is based on efficient sorting of waste at the site of its generation as well as on uniform and efficient instruction of the various parties and companies operating at the site on appropriate waste management procedures. Waste generated during construction will be appropriately sorted and recycled or utilized in energy production as far as possible. The earth-moving, excavation, and dredging masses generated during the construction phase will be utilized, as far as possible, in various on-site filling and leveling operations. The handling, storage, and transportation of hazardous waste will be arranged in accordance with the regulations. No radioactive waste will be generated during the construction phase.