French nuclear regulator ASN has pushed back until the end of this year a decision on what to do about weak spots in the vessel of a new-generation EPR nuclear reactor that utility EDF is building in northern France. In October, ASN said it would rule “soon” on EDF and nuclear group Areva’s plans for dealing with weak spots in the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) in Flamanville. Pushing back the decision could lead to further delays at the reactor, which is years behind schedule. EDF said in September Flamanville would not be operational before 2018 and would cost 10.5 billion euros ($11.5 billion), up from an initial budget of 3 billion. “The companies will have to run tests, then analyse them. Then we need to analyse them. Normally, we should be able to rule on this by the end of the year,” ASN chief Pierre-Franck Chevet told a news conference. ASN said in April that tests had shown that in some zones of the EPR’s reactor vessel and cover there was a significant concentration of carbon, which weakens the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks. If ASN were to decide that Areva needs to replace the reactor vessel or lid because of the weak spots, the Flamanville project could face significant further delays and cost overruns. EDF plans to build two EPRs (European Pressurised Reactors) at Hinkley Point in Britain.
Reuters 20th Jan 2016 read more »