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Flamanville nuclear reactor’s safety problems add to concerns about Britain’s similar nuclear projects

Reuters 26th June 2017, The cover of the reactor vessel EDF is building in Flamanville, France, may not be able to function more than a few years unless the utility can do additional tests which so far it has not be able to, nuclear regulator ASN said in a report.

While the long-awaited report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, concludes the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) is fit for service, EDF may have to replace its vessel cover soon after its
scheduled start-up in 2018. The requirement is a major blow for EDF, which
will have to start planning for a costly replacement of a key part before
the reactor even starts up.

The reputational damage could also add to concerns in Britain about its 18 billion pound ($23 billion) project to
build two similar EPR reactors in southwest England.

The French regulator had ordered a deep review of the Flamanville vessel following the discovery
in 2015 of carbon concentrations in the base and cover of the containment vessel, which make its steel more brittle. The report – led by the IRSN, the ASN’s technical arm – is being reviewed by a group of independent experts on Monday and Tuesday.

This autumn, ASN will partly base its final ruling on Flamanville on the experts’ recommendations. The ASN report
states that while the base of the vessel is fit for service despite the need for increased monitoring over its lifetime, manufacturer Areva NP has not been able to conduct sufficient tests on the cover as it is no longer accessible. These controls are indispensable in order to ensure the reactor’s safety over its 60-year lifetime, the report says.


June 28, 2017 - Posted by | France, safety, UK

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