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Systemic failures in France’s Flamanville nuclear project

Challenges 8th June 2018 [Machine Translation] EPR plant in Flamanville: does EDF really control its
construction site? While China has inaugurated its first EPR reactor,
delays are accumulating on the site of the EPR Flamanville in the Channel.
Defects noted at the end of March on strategic welds will further postpone
the opening of the plant “at least a few months” according to the Nuclear
Safety Authority.

In Flamanville, we are facing systemic failures. It is no
longer a matter of simple problems that add up to each other. It is in
these terms that Mycle Schneider, an independent Canadian expert and
co-author of an annual report on the nuclear industry, draws the alarming
report of the Flamanville shipyard. On May 31, EDF announced a delay of
several months in the construction of the EPR plant due to welding defects
on pipes. A new setback that will delay the commissioning of the plant. And
this is mainly due to a long series of problems since the launch of the
project in December 2007.


June 13, 2018 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Welding defects in the Flamanville EPR nuclear reactor

Romandie 7th June 2018 ,President of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), Pierre-Franck Chevet, said
Thursday that EDF should repair the welding defects on the future EPR
Flamanville, a project that will represent “a minimum” few months of job.
“Already for the weld defects identified, it must be repaired.I feel that
on these defects detected – and I did not say it was the end of what we
would ask – nothing it must be a few months of work, “he said. “It is at
least a few months of work,” he added to members of the commission of
inquiry on the safety and security of nuclear facilities.

Defects had been detected at the end of March on welds of the piping of the reactor under
construction at Flamanville, whose start is officially scheduled for the
end of the year. They concern the pipes of the main secondary circuit,
which connect the steam generator and the turbine that produces the
electricity. By inspecting the work of its subcontractors, EDF realized
that the welds that had been declared compliant actually bore “quality
deviations”. The electrician has therefore launched additional controls.
“According to the indications, there are about 35% of welds that have
defects,” said Mr. Chevet.

“There are some for a few weeks … before. EDF
also explained last Thursday that it would take a few more weeks of
discussions with ASN to draw the conclusions of this dossier – and to have
a precise idea of the probable new delays and additional costs. Meanwhile,
the group had mentioned a possible delay of “a few months” from the start
of the nuclear reactor, potentially until the summer of 2019. The president
of the ASN also recalled that there was another problem concerning the weld
material quality, which had already been announced.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

EDF looks to a profitable industry in decommissioning nuclear reactors

Nuclear Energy Insider 6th June 2018 , As France’s EDF expands into new decommissioning markets, learnings at the
group’s first pressurized water reactor dismantling is informing new cutting, tooling and waste strategies.

A new partnership agreement between EDF’s decommissioning subsidiary Cyclife and Sweden’s Fortum highlights
EDF’s aim to become a leader in the European nuclear decommissioning space.

Cyclife and Fortum announced May 30 they will jointly develop services in
nuclear decommissioning and waste management, focusing on the Nordic
region. European nuclear decommissioning activity is on the rise as ageing
fleets and energy policy shifts combine with stubbornly-low wholesale power
prices. By 2020, some 150 European reactors will have reached a 40-year

June 8, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, France, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear: Finally a parliamentary debate on the safety of fuel pools

Greenpeace Belgium 5th June 2018 , Nuclear: Finally a parliamentary debate on the safety of fuel pools.
Greenpeace is pleased that the Subcommittee on Nuclear Safety has decided
to discuss the report “The safety of nuclear reactors and fuel storage
pools in France and Belgium and the related reinforcement measures” [1],
commissioned by the environmental protection association to 7 independent
international experts and sent last October to the competent authorities.

Only children close their eyes to remove a danger,” said Eloi Glorieux,
nuclear expert at Greenpeace and one of the three speakers of the
Subcommittee of the day. “That our MPs behave as adults and debate nuclear
security today, we can only rejoice.

It is now necessary for Engie-Electrabel to do the same and to take the appropriate measures to
better protect the power stations against external attacks. ” In October,
for security reasons, Greenpeace sent the full report only to the
Director-General of the Crisis Center, the director of the FANC and the
Minister of the Interior and Security, Mr. Jambon. In order to fuel the
public debate, the association had called for a parliamentary debate on the
content of the report. It will have taken months before it can be done,
after the members of the Subcommittee were able, under strict conditions,
to consult the report.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

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 | Leave a comment

Macron’s France signs up to join nuclear power partnership with Putin’s Russia!!


World Nuclear News 29th May 2018, Russia’s Rosatom and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy
Commission (CEA) have signed a strategic document on partnership in the
peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The agreement was signed on 24 May by
Rosatom Director General Alexy Likhachov and CEA Chairman François Jacq in
the presence of the Russian and French presidents, Vladimir Putin and
Emmanuel Macron, during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | France, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

France scaling back nuclear reprocessing – fears of financial disaster as with Japan’s Monju project

Scaling back of French reactor a blow for nuke fuel reprocessing  THE ASAHI SHIMBUN  May 31, 2018 

Japan’s hopes of keeping its nuclear fuel recycling program alive faces another major obstacle with signs from France that a reactor project there will be scaled back because of swelling construction costs.

After the nuclear fuel recycling program suffered a heavy blow with the decision in late 2016 to decommission the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, government officials turned to France’s ASTRID program as an alternative information source for the fuel recycling plan.

But French government officials said the Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration will have its planned power generation scaled back from the initial plan of 600 megawatts of electricity to between 100 and 200 megawatts.

The major aim of the nuclear fuel recycling program is to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, which would be used to create mixed-oxide fuel that could be burned in nuclear reactors.

Government officials had hoped to use various technologies emerging from the ASTRID program to eventually construct a demonstration fast reactor in Japan. But a scaled-back ASTRID would mean knowledge needed for the demonstration reactor would not be available.

According to several government sources, French government officials informed their Japanese counterparts of the planned reduction in the ASTRID power generation plan due mainly to the high construction costs.

French officials also inquired about the possibility of Japan shouldering half the ASTRID construction burden, which could run anywhere between several hundreds of billions of yen to about 1 trillion yen ($9.2 billion).

Plans call for constructing the ASTRID in France with construction to start sometime after 2023………

Even some officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which has been promoting the nuclear fuel recycling program, have raised doubts about participating in the ASTRID program.

Concerns are also being raised among lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, with one executive wondering if cooperating with the ASTRID program could end up much like the Monju project, which wasted more than 1 trillion yen following a spate of accidents and other problems.

(This article was written by Tsuneo Sasai, Shinichi Sekine and Rintaro Sakurai.)

June 1, 2018 Posted by | France, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Persisting with the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) has brought Franc e to a costly nuclear crisis

Liberation 30th May 2018 [Machine Translation] “The impasse”, how the EPR sank French nuclear.
France 5 broadcasts this Wednesday night “Nuclear, the French impasse”, a documentary against the declining reign of the atom. This film investigates EDF’s crazy gamble: risking its survival on the EPR, a reactor that accumulates trouble.

Will the EPR be the Titanic of French nuclear power? This is the shocking question posed by a film investigated by director Patrick Benquet broadcast tonight on France 5 which points to the “impasse”
in which the “most nuclearized country in the world” has locked up by equipping itself with 58 reactors. the 70s-80s. A fleet of 19 aging plants, which still produces 75% of French electricity, and which EDF wants to keep at all costs by launching a new generation of pressurized water reactor:

the EPR, “the most powerful never built, able to supply electricity to a metropolis like Paris. It must have been the deadly weapon of the nuclear lobby to defend the reign of the atom undermined by the Fukushima disaster and the rise of green energies.

EDF dreamed of exporting it all over the world by selling this “new nuclear” as the best lever against global warming. But things did not go at all as planned. And today EDF is going through a crisis that threatens the very existence of the “public service preferred by the French,” says the documentary.

There are these hidden costs of the atom, put under the carpet for decades, which rise to the surface: the enormous costs of reprocessing radioactive waste, is added the bill of the “great refit”: these works of Hercules designed to extend the lifespan of aging plants from 40 to 50 years. ”

EDF promised cheap electricity, but the real cost of nuclear energy today is in the tens and tens of billions. And ultimately it is the taxpayer who will pay, announces the implacable voice off. Yet, EDF, the nuclear state in the state, will launch the EPR at all costs. By assigning a strategic mission: take over
the old reactors that will gradually retire by 2035.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Trial of French activists who entered Cruas nuclear plant to demonstrate vulnerability of spent fuel storage pools

Liberation 17th May 2018 [Machine Translation] At Greenpeace activists’ trial, nuclear safety is no exception. At the trial of 22 activists of Greenpeace, the court tried Thursday to limit the debates to the facts – their intrusion in November in the nuclear site of Cruas-Meysse (Ardèche) – without being able to avoid the question of the safety of the power plants, that the NGO is questioning.

This action, preceded by a first in Cattenom (Moselle), had the same objective for its authors: to show flaws in the safety of spent fuel storage pools. The hearing was held under high police protection while a rally to support these “whistleblowers” was held all day in front of the courthouse.

Mediapart 18th May 2018 Against Greenpeace, state prosecutes civil disobedience. Sentences of reprieve and imprisonment were required against the twenty-three activists of Greenpeace who illegally entered the Cruas nuclear power plant in November 2017. For the public prosecutor, as for EDF, “it is time it stops. It is no longer possible to tolerate these repeated intrusions . ”

May 19, 2018 Posted by | France, legal | Leave a comment

EDF pinning its hopes for EPR nuclear reactor on the Taishan reactor, China

The French stress test for nuclear power, 18 May 18

Years late and billions over budget the first European Pressurised Reactor is set to become operational. Its success is critical for France   Andrew Ward in London and David Keohane in Paris MAY 17, 2018   “…..  fuel loading at Taishan — one of the last steps before it starts producing electricity — carries wider significance beyond China.  Taishan, operated by China General Nuclear Power Corp, the state-owned energy company, is on course to become, within months, the first plant in the world to operate a European Pressurised Reactor — the Franco-German technology plagued by delays and cost overruns since it was designed in the 1990s. “The Taishan 1 fuel loading is a very important milestone,” says Xavier Ursat, head of new nuclear projects for EDF, the French state-backed utility which owns 30 per cent of the project. “It will bring a new image to the EPR.”

Few technologies are in greater need of a makeover. When work started on the first EPR as a joint venture of Areva of France and Siemens of Germany at Olkiluoto, Finland, 13 years ago, it was supposed to herald a new era of growth for atomic power. Instead, as construction timetables slipped and German support melted away, the EPR has become a symbol of the nuclear industry’s struggle to remain competitive. EDF, the main surviving corporate champion behind the EPR, is hoping that completion of Taishan will mark a turning point in efforts to convince sceptical investors, policymakers and potential buyers that the reactor can still be a success. At stake is the future of the wider French nuclear sector, which is relying on the EPR for long-term growth, at a time when the country’s dependence on atomic power is being questioned by President Emmanuel Macron ’s administration.
 Taishan is the furthest advanced of four EPR projects around the world and, at a mere five years late, the least delayed. Olkiluoto is due to come into service next year, a decade late and nearly three times over budget at €8.5bn. It is a similar story at EDF’s flagship Flamanville plant in France, which is seven years late and €7bn over budget. A further project involving two EPRs at Hinkley Point, south-west England, is not due for completion until the end of 2025, eight years after EDF once predicted it would be finished. These setbacks have plunged France’s nuclear industry into financial turmoil. Areva, battered by its losses at Olkiluoto, was last year folded into EDF in a state-brokered deal that amounted to a bailout of the sector. A €4bn capital raising by EDF last year improved its balance sheet but the company still had €33bn of net debt at the end of 2017, only a little less than its current market capitalisation.
No country has more invested in nuclear power than France, which generates 70 per cent of its electricity from the splitting of atoms. The EPR was designed to renew the country’s nuclear fleet as many of its existing 58 reactors approach the end of their operational lives, while also generating valuable export orders. But construction delays have been seized on by those — including some inside the Macron government — who want a decisive shift in French energy policy away from nuclear and towards renewable power. A policy “road map” is due by the end of the year setting out how fast France should pursue a government target to cut nuclear’s share of domestic electricity production to 50 per cent. Similar debates are under way in many countries where nuclear power is generated, as critics argue that its high costs, safety risks and radioactive waste can no longer be justified when the costs of wind and solar power are falling rapidly. ……….
 While the EPR was designed to be almost bomb and meltdown-proof, construction flaws have painted a less robust picture. France’s nuclear regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, ruled last year that anomalies in the steel used at Flamanville meant the reactor’s lid, or vessel head, would need replacing — at significant expense — after just six years of operation. Separate defects have since emerged in the welding of steel pipes at the French plant. EDF is due to reveal within weeks whether it can still meet its latest timetable to be fully operational by November 2019. While the start-up of Taishan will be a welcome fillip, Flamanville remains the bigger test for EDF because of its 100 per cent ownership and because approval from the ASN — seen as a gold standard in nuclear regulation — bestows credibility on the technology internationally. ………
Setbacks at Flamanville have cast a shadow over the early stages of construction at Hinkley Point, where two EPRs are being built with an aim to meet 7 per cent of UK electricity demand. EDF insists that experience accumulated at Flamanville and Taishan will make Hinkley a smoother process. Avoiding delays in the UK will be crucial if EDF is to persuade international buyers — and its own shareholders, not least the French government — that the EPR’s teething problems are over. ………

May 19, 2018 Posted by | China, France, technology | Leave a comment

Electricite de France (EDF) is lying about renewable energy: it’s really dedicated to nuclear power

Greenpeace France 14th May 2018 [Machine Translation] On the eve of EDF’s Annual General Meeting,
Greenpeace France points to the deception that EDF’s CEO has been driving for several months and will present the shareholders of the company tomorrow.

With a lot of communication on the energy transition, the company is far from developing renewable energies and directs almost all of its investments in nuclear power. That is a losing strategy, both for the company, and for France, which is lagging far behind the implementation of its energy transition.

Faced with EDF shareholders, Jean-Bernard Lévy will no doubt say tomorrow that the company plays a central role in the energy transition, with its solar plan for 2035 presented in December 2017. ” In reality, when we compare the calendars and EDF budgets, we realize that the company will mainly give priority to investments in the nuclear fleet and
postpone its investments in solar …

In general, the company is already behind the targets that she fixed herself. And yet, in 2017, it devoted only 10% of its investments to renewables! ” Exclaims Alix Mazounie, energy campaigner for Greenpeace France.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | France, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

France’s renewable energy projects picking up

Environmental research web 12th May 2018 ,Dave Elliott: Although progress has been relatively slow, France has a
quite ambitious energy policy, with nuclear to be cut back by around 25%, by 2025, so that it supplied a maximum of 50% of power, and renewables accelerating to supply 32% of energy by 2030 and doubling their share of electricity to 40% by then.

And last year, according to BNEF data, France invested $5bn in Clean Energy, up 15% on 2016. It has some interesting
renewable energy projects at a range of scales. For example, the go ahead has been given for 17GW of small-scale renewables. At the larger scale, a 493 MW offshore wind farm also got a go ahead off Brittany- its biggest offshore project so far.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear hopes dashed, as renewable energy outpaces nuclear

Le Monde 12th May 2018 [Machine Translation] Energy: “French stubbornness on the nuclear path is a
risky strategy”. The French choice for nuclear power is all the more dangerous because it is economically outpaced by other sources of energy, says economist Aurélien Saussay in a forum at the “World”. With the new
multiannual energy program (EPP), in public debate until June 30, France seems to have to renew its wishes for nuclear loyalty. The proponents of the status quo advance mostly economic arguments. Only nuclear electricity, flagship of French technology, would be able to meet our needs for a reasonable cost, while not emitting greenhouse gases.

The economic health of the sector is however not reassuring. Contrary to the hopes of a “renaissance” raised in 2007 at the launch of the EPR project in Flamanville, the past decade has proved disastrous for French and international nuclear power. Areva, which had designed and managed the EPR, was in a critical situation in 2016, after suffering a cumulative loss of 10 billion euros from 2011 to 2015. Only the injection of nearly 5 billion euros by the state and a drastic restructuring saved the company from bankruptcy.

Numerous reactor projects have been canceled in recent years in Brazil, South Africa and the United States. Main exception: China, with 20 reactors under construction and 60 more planned for the coming decade. The world’s first EPR commissioned will be located in southeastern China.

Apart from this Chinese specificity, how to explain the defeat, in France and abroad, of an industry promised to the most beautiful future only ten years ago? If “historic” nuclear power cost only € 0.04 / kWh, an EPR kWh
should exceed € 0.12. However, other technologies for generating electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, such as solar photovoltaic or wind, have followed an exactly opposite cost trajectory. In the case of solar, the fall is spectacular: some international projects have crossed the threshold of 0.04 € / kWh.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | ENERGY, France | Leave a comment

Macron calls friend Trump, angry over his Iran nuclear move

French President Emmanuel Macron has called his friend and ally U.S. President Donald Trump to say he’s very worried about tensions in the Middle East, after Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord.

Macron’s office said the two leaders spoke Saturday and the French leader expressed his “great concern about stability” in the region. Macron strongly opposes Trump’s pullout from the 2015 global deal curbing Iran’s nuclear activities. Hostilities between Iran and Israel have already escalated in recent days.

Macron and Trump also discussed trade issues. European governments are scrambling to save billions of dollars in trade with Iran that resumed thanks to the 2015 accord.

In addition, France and the EU are pressing Washington for exemption from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | France, politics international | Leave a comment

Flamanville nuclear power plant: 150 padlocks stolen

150 padlocks disappear from ‘cursed’ French nuclear plant, Times UK,    The French nuclear plant touted as a model for Britain’s new reactors was under scrutiny yesterday after 150 of the padlocks protecting its command-control computers disappeared.

Electricity of France (EDF), the state electricity group, filed a criminal lawsuit over the disappearance of the padlocks from cabinets containing the computer system at the plant under construction at Flamanville in northern France.

EDF is leading the £19.5 billion project to build two similar reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which are expected to supply 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity.

The company said police were investigating the incident and that it had started an internal audit. None of the computers had been tampered with.

The reactor itself had a separate system, EDF said, which remained under lock…

May 9, 2018 Posted by | France, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment