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Flamanville -the costly bloated shoddy leaky white elephant in France’s nuclear room

France’s Revolutionary Nuclear Reactor Is a Leaky, Expensive Mess
With a bloated budget, endless delays, and shoddy construction, EPR looks like a big mistake.
  BY CAROLINE DELBERT, AUG 3, 2020   

  • A revolutionary French reactor design is 10 years overdue and nearly four times over budget.
  • Taking big technology swings requires risk, but this huge miscalculation looks bad.
  • The reactor uses less uranium and aims to replace a decommissioned reactor at an existing plant.

France’s new energy minister has called a major French nuclear project “a mess” in public interviews. The European pressurized reactor (EPR) that was commissioned for the Flamanville nuclear power plant, where it joins two existing pressurized water reactors, has been delayed and plagued by problems. The latest extension takes the project timeline from 13 years to 17 at least.

The goal with the EPR design was to continue to kit out the world’s highest-output nuclear plants, with individual reactors that were more powerful and safer. The EPR uses less uranium because its chemical design is more efficient. And it’s not any kind of major technological leap; instead, it’s an iteration on a previous design that’s just a little bit better.

The engineers are so eager to keep iterating that they already have an EPR 2 design in the works. This sounds pretty straightforward … right?

The EPR dates back to the 2000s, when the first two reactors were commissioned for France and Finland. Despite breaking ground in 2007 and 2005, respectively, neither reactor has kept to its timeline. Now, Finland will be the first in 2021, if it hits its repeatedly rescheduled opening day. France is even further back at 2023. The outgoing French administration signed the latest extension in March.

That puts Flamanville 10 years past its original due date. One of the more alarming causes for delay is a break in the “main secondary system penetration welds,” which has contributed to a budget that’s bloated from a planned $3.9 billion to $14.6 billion.

In July, “France’s Court of Auditors slammed the Flamanville build, saying EDF had vastly underestimated its cost and timetable for completion,” Montel reports:………..

Barbara Pompili was just appointed France’s minister of ecological transition, which is the department that includes energy as well as environmental issues like biodiversity. Pompili is publicly and avowedly anti-nuclear, even for civilian energy. With a new spotlight on her office, she told a French radio station, “We have made a commitment to reduce the share of nuclear power to 50 [percent] by 2035.”

Pompili said the critiques of Flamanville’s overdue EPR reflect broad industry consensus from different reports, not her own anti-nuclear views.

In the case of Flamanville, it would seem stranger if Pompili didn’t speak out. The huge, leaky, extensively delayed project has become the nuclear elephant in the room. https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a33499619/france-nuclear-reactor-epr-expensive-mess/

August 4, 2020 - Posted by | France, politics

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