Section 6 of the Nuclear Energy Act (YEL 990/ 1987) stipulates hat the use of nuclear energy must be safe; it shall not cause injury to people, or damage to the environment or property. In the siting of a nuclear power plant, the aim is to protect the plant against external threats as well as to minimise any environmental detrimen its and threats that might arise from it.
Other factors to be considered include: impact on land use, socio-economic impacts, traffic arrangements, reliable electric power transfer to the national grid and specific factors relating to the security of supply of electric power. Prior to the licensing procedure proper, the environmental effects of the nuclear power plant project are studied and evaluated by environmental impact assessment (EIA). The EIA procedure falls under the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure (EIA) (468/1994) and the Decree on EIA (268/1999). In addition, Finland’s neighbouring countries shall be heard where deemed necessary by virtue of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context . The Nuclear Energy Act prescribes that there must be a decision in principle of the Council of State, approved by Parliament, stating that the nuclear power plant project is in the overall good of society. An application for the decision in principle is submitted to the Council of State; the Ministry of Trade and Industry submits it to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) for a preliminary safety evaluation and requests statements from the Ministry of the Environment, the municipal council of the candidate municipality and its neighbouring municipalities.
The Nuclear Energy Decree (YEA 161/1998) stipulates that an environmental impact assessment report drawn up as a result of the EIA procedure shall be appended to the application for the decision in principle. The Council of State can consider a positive decision in principle only in case the candidate municipality has issued a statement in favour of the facility’s construction.Detailed licensing requirements applicable to the construction and operation of nuclear power plants are stipulated in the Nuclear Energy Act and Decree. The granting of a licence in accordance with the Nuclear Energy Act requires that the project and its environmental impacts are reported to the Commission of the European Communities, not later than six months prior to the granting of the licence, as required in article 37 of EURATOM Treaty and in Commission Recommendation 99/829/Euratom , which supplements the Treaty.
The Land Use and Building Act (132/1999) and Decree (895/1999) prescribe planning pertaining to land use and construction. Regional plans and local master plans are, by nature, far-reaching, general land use plans. Detailed plans are drawn up for the detailed arrangement, construction and development of land use at local level.
Construction is not allowed on shore zones belonging to the coastal area of a sea or of a water system unless the area is covered by a detailed plan (a detailed shore plan) or by a specific local master plan. When deciding about a land use plan and a construction permit the authorities consider the special requirements pertaining to construction work on the nuclear power plant site and in its surroundings. Section 58 of the Nuclear Energy Act decrees that before a town plan 1 or building plan1 is drawn up for the area intended for the site of a nuclear facility, and prior to the approval of such a plan where a site is reserved for the construction of a nuclear facility, a statement must be obtained from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. In addition to the above, the environmental permit procedure prescribed in the Environmental Permit Procedures Act (731/1991) applies to the construction and operation of nuclear power 1 The terms “town plan” and “building plan” have been replaced with a “detailed plan” by virtue of the Land Use and plants. Rescue plans with provision for nuclear power plant accidents are dealt with in the Act on Rescue Services (561/1999) and the Decree on Rescue Services (857/1999) as well as in the Ministry of the Interior Order 1/97  and the associated Guideline A:57 .
Requirements applicable to the limitation of radioactive releases from nuclear power plants are presented in chapter 3 of the Council of State Decision (VNP 395/1991) on the general regulations for the safety of nuclear power plants. Section 20 of the Decision, for its part, requires that the most important nuclear power plant safety functions shall remain operable in spite of any natural phenomena estimated possible on site or other events external to the plant. Supplementary guidelines pertaining to safety functions can be found in Guides YVL 2.6 and YVL 2.8.
Guide YVL 2.6 concerns the effects of seismic events and how they should be considered in the structural concepts of nuclear power plants. Guide YVL 2.8 deals with probabilistic safety analyses (PSA) for nuclear power plants. STUK Guides YVL 7.1–7.11 and YVL 7.18 deal with onsite and offsite radiation safety and with licensees’ emergency response plans. This guide sets forth requirements for safety of the population and the environment in nuclear power plant siting. It also sets out the general basis for procedures employed by other competent authorities when they issue regulations or grant licences. On request STUK issues casespecific statements about matters relating to planning and about other matters relating to land use in the environment of nuclear power plants. Alternative candidate plant sites may be simultaneously examined during the EIA process and in the application for a decision in principle. In accordance with the Nuclear Energy Act, applications for a construction licence and an operating licence may only concern one plant site.