On May 3rd, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of several parts manufactured at the site. The ASN specifies “inconsistencies”, pointing to shortcomings in quality control (as a best-case scenario) but also mentions “omissions or modifications” related to the potential falsification of manufacturing reports. At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Problems concern the concentration levels of carbon and other elements contained in metallic parts, which determine the resistance of machined components. These levels were incorrectly reported or not reported at all. The possible explanation is that figures which did not comply with regulatory safety requirements were masked using this process. However, this equipment must be extremely robust and operate to the highest mechanical standard to ensure total safety. The Flamanville EPR is the first among those affected by non-compliance problems. The first “serious anomalies” identified by the ASN in spring 2015 were found on the upper and lower heads of the vessel. Excess carbon in the central portion raises questions about their mechanical ability to withstand a sudden breakdown in certain conditions (notably, the need, in certain cases, to inject large amounts of cold water into the vessel, which can create a risk of thermal shock). This means that the Taishan EPR under construction in China could also be affected by these discoveries, as is the Hinkley Point project in the UK (in the planning stages). Above all, it demonstrates Areva’s inability to control and monitor processes in the nuclear industry and, as a result, confirms an urgent need to plan for a reduction in the share of nuclear energy in the multi-year energy plan which should be published following the energy transition law adopted by France last year.
Greenpeace 16th June 2016 read more »
French nuclear group Areva is planning to create a new company which will focus on nuclear fuel for power plants. Created through a partial contribution of Areva assets as part of the company’s restructuring plan, the new entity, New CO, will include uranium mining, enrichment and waste recycling. Areva CEO Philippe Knoche said: “Today, we present the roadmap for Areva’s continued transformation. This program defines the major stages necessary to the creation of New CO, a separate new entity refocused on the Mining, Front End and Back End operations.
Energy Business Review 16th June 2016 read more »