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The trials and tribulations of France’s Flamanville EPR nuclear reactor

Montel 31st May 2018 French utility EDF will reveal “in the next few days” whether
sub-standard welding identified at France’s first European pressurised
reactor (EPR) in Flamanville will lead to further start-up delays, a
spokeswoman said on Thursday. However, she refused to comment on Montel’s
interview with a senior official of the ASN watchdog’s technical arm –
the IRSN – who said the commissioning of the unit faced further delays
“of at leastseveral months”.

Jeremy Leggett 31st May 2018 French nuclear regulator fears “epidemic” safety-culture collapse at
Flamanville: disaster looms for EDF. Almost 150 more weld failures (beyond
those discovered earlier, as reviewed in the article) mean the nuclear
plant scheduled online in 2012 at a cost of €3.5bn is now delayed to
2020, probably, at a cost of €10.5bn, and counting.

Thierry Charles, deputy director general, Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear
Safety (IRSN), the technical arm of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN):
“The expected high level of quality was not specified (Editor’s note:
by EDF), the conformity of supplies to the specification could not be
attested”, plus “the qualification of the welding procedures […] ]
does not respect all the rules of art. Charles cites concerns over “other
categories of mechanical equipment” than the pipes of the secondary
circuit. He flags “human and organizational failures” and “lack of
rigor of suppliers”.

He ascribes all this to the “inadequacies of the
monitoring system put in place by EDF” to check the conformity of the
work of its subcontractors and he fears “dysfunction potentially damaging
to safety”. He has invited the ASN to summon EDF to thoroughly review its
organization “to improve the quality of realization of welds and make its
monitoring system more effective”. In a final, potentially lethal, blow
to EDF he argues that “additional controls will be requested on other
circuits of the reactor to verify that there is no epidemic.”

Liberation 31st May 2018 [Machine Translation] The Flamanville EPR is likely to see its start
postponed to 2020. The weld quality problem detected on the EPR reactor
could differ by almost a year from its commissioning. The nuclear policeman
should demand that the work be redone.

A blow for EDF. A month and a half
after the discovery of new quality defects on 150 welds of the main
secondary circuit of the EPR reactor of the Flamanville power station, in
the Channel , EDF is preparing to post a further delay of several months in
the commissioning of what was to be the new flagship of the atom made in

The EPR was due to start no later than early 2019. But according to
a source very familiar with the file questioned by Libération, the start
of the EPR Flamanville could outright “suffer a year late and be postponed
to the end of 2019 or early 2020” ! Severely taxed by the gendarme of the
atom, EDF would indeed be forced to resume one by one “Almost all 150
welds” whose quality is not up to what was expected by the nuclear
policeman for this type of equipment under nuclear pressure.


June 2, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, France, politics, safety

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