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French nuclear industry in turmoil, – inadequate welds at Flamanville nuclear reactor

Le Monde 16th Sept 2018 [Machine Translation] Nuclear: In Flamanville, the welds of the discord.
The manufacturing difficulties of the French EPR have cruelly recalled the pitfalls that threaten the tricolor nuclear industry: an extremely ambitious initial vision and implementation difficulties with heavy consequences.
At the beginning of the year, problems with essential welds at the Flamanville reactor will lead EDF to re-evaluate the costs and delays of the project. While the group’s management hoped to start in early 2019, it will be necessary to wait until 2020 to see the EPR be connected to the network.
The welding business illustrates bitterly the difficulties of the French nuclear industry, faced with its loss of skills and know-how. EDF has defined this new quality standard for the construction of the EPR and has not been able to enforce it to its own subcontractors In February, EDF discovered problems on thirty-eight welds, on sixty-six of the secondary circuit. This water circuit is the one used to evacuate steam to the turbine. It consists of four loops, associated with four steam
As a first step, the group explains that these pipes comply with the regulations but that they should have corresponded to the “high quality” standard, which is more demanding than the regulations in force. Specifically, EDF had defined this new quality standard for the construction of the EPR and was unable to enforce it to its own subcontractors. “Why did we need to create this new standard?”
But things got complicated a few weeks later. The extensive examination of the welds reveals that a large part of them do not comply with the standard required by EDF, or even the regulations required for pressurized nuclear equipment.
As a result, the group has to take back fifty-eight welds, knowing that a single weld represents eight weeks of extra work.

September 18, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, France, safety

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