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Concern over cracks in EPR nuclear reactors in France- questions on similar reactors in Finland, UK,China

Concerns have been raised over the reactors at EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, after cracks were detected in some of the company’s reactors in France. A new report has now warned that the cracks could cause “nuclear accidents” and adds that Hinkley Point C could face similar challenges.

The cracks were first detected in October 2021 in an emergency cooling circuit of the first 1300Mw reactor of the Civaux power plant in France. Cracks have since been discovered in three other
1500Mw reactors and in the 1300Mw Penly 1 reactor.

According to the report, produced by energy transition experts Global Chance, other plants including
Hinkley Point C should be examined in case they will be similarly affected. The report says: “It would also be necessary to examine the possibility that the EPR reactors at Flamanville, Olkiluoto and Taïshan, as well as those under construction at Hinkley Point, might themselves be concerned, insofar as they were designed on the basis of the 1500Mw N4 model.”

Co-author of the report Bernard Laponche emphasised the potential impact of the cracks. “If the defects detected on the welds evolve, they can cause a breach in the main reactor cooling system,” he said. “The risk is therefore to generate a nuclear accident situation”.

It comes after it was revealed in June last year that the US government had been assessing reports of a
leak at the Chinese Taishan power station, with gas escaping after the coating on some of the fuel rods deteriorated. An investigation is ongoing into the cause of the problems with the plant, which is in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. To date, inspections at Taishan have found
“mechanical wear of certain assembly components”, EDF said. It added that several of its long-running reactors have shown a similar pattern and the issues did not raise questions over the Taishan reactor’s design.

New Civil Engineer 16th June 2022


June 18, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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