17 Mar (NucNet): System performance testing has begun at EDF's 1,600-MW Flamanville-3 EPR under construction in northern France with reactor startup scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2018, the utility said in a statement on 16 March 2017.
The first phase of the testing is system flushing, EDF said. Water will be circulated at very high flow rates in all pipes connecting safety systems in the primary reactor coolant system, including the reactor vessel.
These flushing operations are scheduled to continue until the summer. Cold hydrostatic testing will follow, ensuring all equipment “fulfils the function assigned to it in the design”, EDF said.
The final stage of the system performance testing is hot functional testing, which operates reactor systems at operating temperatures but without fuel in the core.
After the testing phase is completed, the next milestone is the loading of fuel and start-up, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, EDF said.
More than 1,000 technicians and engineers will be involved in all phases of the testing, EDF said.
Construction of the plant began in December 2007, but has been hit by a number of delays with the concrete pour and because of difficulties encountered by reactor supplier Areva regarding delivery of equipment such as the lid and internal structures to the reactor pressure vessel.
There were also problems meeting regulations on equipment under nuclear pressure, for which Flamanville-3 is a first-of-a-kind.
EDF said in September 2015 that following an assessment of “all the industrial and financial parameters” project costs had been revised to €10.5bn ($11.3bn).
An estimate released in July 2011 was €8bn. When construction began the plant was scheduled to enter service in late 2012 at a cost of €3.3bn.