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Hanhikivi 1 -työmaan laitoskaivanto

Earthwork in the main pit of the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant continues after a break of a few years. The final foundation will be nearly 20 meters below sea level. Photos by Kuulu Oy

The main pit deepens – the location of Hanhikivi 1 power plant

Almost 500 people work at the Hanhikivi 1 construction site every day. The current work at the site includes earthworks and blasting in the main pit, as well as installing the first permanent concrete structures.

Fennovoima’s Site Manager Aki Jokinen looks out the window of the site office. The conference room has a view of the sea and the main pit of the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant.

The concrete base to be cast in the excavation will be the foundation for many of the largest buildings in the plant area. Currently, there is a pit 400 meters long and 300 meters wide in that spot, excavated almost in its entirety to the depth of two meters below sea level.

Aki Jokinen, työmaapäällikkö
Site Manager Aki Jokinen and his team of three people are responsible for Fennovoima’s site supervision. “When the plant construction begins and work is carried out at the site 24/7, there will be dozens of supervisors here,” he says.

“We still have approximately 550,000 cubic meters of rock to excavate. Our goal is to continue excavating to the final foundation level, which is nearly 20 meters below sea level, at the turn of the year,” says Jokinen.

Work in the plant excavation continues

Titan-2, the main contractor of the Hanhikivi 1 construction site, is responsible for the earthworks in the main pit. The subcontractor is Metrostav a.s., a Czech company, which worked on constructing of the West Metro in Helsinki, among others.

Early in the fall, Metrostav pumped the accumulated rainwater from the pit, removed the last remnants of the soft soil layer and applied additional sealing on the rock walls. In October, the company began blasting work.

“Our goal is to continue excavating to the final foundation level, which is nearly 20 meters below sea level, at the turn of the year.”

When the previous open doors day was organized at the Hanhikivi 1 construction site in September 2019, the excavation looked more or less the same. Jokinen stresses that the work stages completed during the fall are not new, but earthworks and blasting have continued after a break of a few years.

“The layout of the power plant changed slightly in the design stage, which is why we revised the boundaries of the main pit.”

Hanhikivi 1 -työmaan satama
Dredging and excavation work are performed from both the mainland and the sea. The work being performed on the south side of the Hanhikivi peninsula includes dredging for a dock and a cooling water intake channel and backup intake channel, as well as constructing a temporary road that extends in part to the harbor basin.

Permanent concrete structures are being installed

Aki Jokinen turns the site pickup truck towards the south shore of the Hanhikivi peninsula. The wind blows on the Bay of Bothnia shore.

The Estonian BMGS Eesti filial is dredging for the dock and the cooling water intake channel and backup intake in the harbor area. In October, the company began installing the first permanent concrete structures, the caissons, in the backup water intake channel. 

A caisson is part of the closing structure of the water intake channel, which prevents soil and ice from drifting to the port basin, among other things.

“The base plate of the caisson was cast in Estonia during the summer and transported to Kokkola on a barge. To the Hanhikivi peninsula the base plate arrived by means of floating, in other words, it was lowered to the sea to float,” Jokinen says.

Putkia hitsataan Hanhikivi 1 -työmaalla
The Hanhikivi 1 project has considerable impacts on employment. The power plant’s construction phase will employ a total of over 20,000 professionals.

Colleagues returned to the office

Loud laughter spreads from the break room on the second floor of Fennovoima’s site office, and the aroma of a microwaved lunch wafts to the corridor. Yellow high-visibility clothes hang from the backs of chairs and coat racks.

Construction at the Hanhikivi 1 construction site continued throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but many specialists worked remotely for nearly 18 months. Employees like Jokinen were an exception since their presence is required every weekday of the year.

“Fortunately, my colleagues have returned to the office,” he says and puts the keys of the Amarok in the hook.

Jokinen knows the gravel roads of the Hanhikivi 1 construction site like the back of his hand, since he drives around the area on a daily basis. The site manager and his team of three people are responsible for Fennovoima’s site supervision.

“We conduct statutory building inspection. In other words, we inspect and monitor the work of the contractors. When the plant construction begins and work is carried out at the site 24/7, there will be dozens of supervisors here.”

Hanhikivi 1 -työmaa-alue syyskuussa 2021
The Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant is an investment of around EUR 7–7.5 billion, of which domestic investments account for approximately EUR 2 billion.
Sirkkelöintiä Hanhikivi 1 -työmaalla, taustalla rakenteilla oleva Fennovoiman hallintorakennus
Up until now, nearly 4,000 access permits have been issued at the Hanhikivi 1 construction site. During the construction of the power plant, one on-site job will create five off-site jobs.
Hanhikiven niemi syksyllä 2021
The combined area of the temporary buildings on the Hanhikivi peninsula has already exceeded 100,000 square meters. Ten halls have been erected adjacent to the accommodation village in the plant supplier RAOS Project’s storage area.
Kaksi Hanhikivi 1 -työmaan työntekijää ja henkilönostin
No clusters of coronavirus infections have been detected in the Hanhikivi 1 project. During the fall, there were nine coronavirus cases on the Hanhikivi peninsula. All infected employees and those exposed to the virus were contacted and quarantined.

The photos in the article were taken in September 2021.