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Flamanville-3 / Significant Amount Of Work Remains Before Fuel Loading, Says Regulator

By David Dalton
17 May 2019

Significant Amount Of Work Remains Before Fuel Loading, Says Regulator
Flamanville-3 ©EDF Médiathèque/Alexis Morin/Antoine Soubigou
17 May (NucNet): France’s state-controlled nuclear operator EDF still has “a significant amount of work to do” before fuel is loaded into the Flamanville-3 nuclear power reactor under construction in Normandy, the regulator ASN has said.

ASN said in a report on nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2018 that the manufacture of components and construction of the 1,600-MW Generation III EPR unit are experiencing “many difficulties”, mainly due to a loss of experience in the implementation of major projects.

In parliament, the head of ASN told lawmakers the regulator would examine EDF’s proposals to resolve welding anomalies at the reactor, adding a decision on those proposals will be made in June.

EDF said last month it is likely to delay next year’s planned commercial operation of its Flamanville-3 EPR unit in northern France following expert recommendations to repair eight faulty pipe welds.

Some French media reports said the weld problem could delay the plant’s planned commercial operation until 2022.

In January, EDF said it was “actively pursuing” an action plan to rectify problems with welds at Flamanville-3.

Faulty welds discovered last year forced EDF to delay the start-up date for the plant to the second quarter of 2020 and announce an increase in the cost of the project to €10.5bn and then to €10.9bn. An estimate of the cost in July 2011 was €8bn.

In July 2018, EDF said 53 welds on Flamanville’s secondary circuits would have to be redone, while for another 10 it was confident it could convince regulator ASN that they were fit for service. Another 85 needed no repairs, it said.

In its report, ASN said it would make a generic ruling on the extension of the lifespan of EDF’s 900-MW reactors at the end of 2020.

“A review will then be carried out, reactor by reactor. It will start with the Tricastin-1 reactor and will run until 2030,” ASN said.

ASN also said in its report that in 2018 the safety of the operation of major nuclear installations and radiation protection in the industrial and medical fields have generally remained “at a satisfactory level”.

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