25 Jul (NucNet): The cost of the Flamanville-3 EPR nuclear unit under construction in northern France has risen from €10.5bn to €10.9bn with fuel loading now postponed by one year to the fourth quarter of 2019, state-controlled nuclear operator EDF said today.
The start of hot tests on the 1,600-MW plant is scheduled before the end of 2018, EDF said.
The additional cost and delay are the result of safety checks that have been carried out after flaws were discovered in the weldings of the reactor’s secondary circuit.
EDF said today it has tested 148 of the 150 welds on the reactor’s secondary circuit and will test the remaining two by the end of July 2018.
Of the 148 welds tested, 33 welds show “quality deviations” and will be repaired.
EDF has also decided to repeat 20 welds, even though they do not have any flaws. These welds do not comply with requirements defined by EDF at the time of the EPR’s design, the company said.
For 10 other welds, EDF has submitted to regulator ASN a specific justification procedure method to confirm the high level of safety of the installation throughout its operating life. This approach will be the subject of an in-depth investigation by ASN.
The other 85 welds in the secondary circuit are compliant and do not pose any safety risk, EDF said.
In April, EDF reported that it had detected quality discrepancies in some welds in the main secondary circuit of the plant. It added that this discovery could have an impact on the reactor's start-up schedule.
The company said at the time that it would comment on the startup schedule after it had verified all 150 weldings in the secondary circuit, which conducts steam from the steam generator to the plant’s turbines.
Construction of Flamanville-3 began in 2007. In 2011 EDF put the cost of the plant at €8bn.