EDF has delayed the restart of two nuclear reactors in France after a safety investigation that has thrown the country’s state-controlled nuclear industry into crisis. French electricity prices surged by 9 per cent yesterday after the French energy company said that the restart of its 900 megawatt Dampierre 3 and 1,500 megawatt Civaux 2 reactors had been postponed until December 31, a time when electricity demand is close to its annual peak. The reactors had been due to restart on November 30, but further checks will be required to satisfy ASN, the French nuclear safety regulator, that they are safe. Another EDF reactor, Saint-Laurent 2, has been given permission to restart three days earlier than expected, on November 24. British power prices have increased, too, because the UK usually imports electricity from France. At the moment, it is exporting across the Channel to help to meet its neighbour’s shortfall, raising fears of a supply crunch. ASN launched an investigation in June amid concerns about excessive levels of carbon in the steel used in steam generators, key components in a nuclear power station. High levels of carbon in the steel can make it brittle, which, in turn can allow components to crack, potentially causing an accident. In the past six months regulators have ordered the shutdown of a string of French reactors after the discovery of weak spots in the steel used inside Flamanville 3, a prototype reactor in northern France that is being built to the same design as EDF’s proposed £18 billion nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. “It’s a really serious situation,” said John Large, a nuclear engineer, who believes that some of the French reactors may never be allowed to restart. “Because these components are vulnerable to a fast fracture, you have to be very careful.” He claimed that the steel inside the reactors was significantly compromised, with the level of carbon at roughly double the recommended level, “enough to reduce the toughness of the metal by about 50 per cent”. Eighteen reactors have been checked as part of the review. Six remain in service having been cleared for use. Another eight remain out of service, while four more are due to be shut down next month. A further six are being allowed to remain in service but with conditions, such as reduced output to lower the stress and heat levels inside the reactor. The ASN is investigating alleged falsification of documents by Areva, the reactor manufacturer, at a factory in central France. “On the reactors affected by the problem of carbon segregation, we have carried out checks and handed over a file to the ASN. The investigation is continuing and our objective is to be able to restart them as soon as possible,” EDF said. “We are confident in the solidity of our demonstration.”
Times 24th Nov 2016 read more »
French nuclear is in a “very worrying” situation, says the Nuclear Safety Authority. A highly publicized concern, which serves to gain points in his battle against the nucleocrats. The situation has become very worrying. “When these remarks apply to French nuclear power plants and are held by Pierre-Franck Chevet, president of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the gendarme de l’atom, there Has enough to experience some cold sweat! In an interview given on Wednesday (November 23rd) at the “Figaro”, Chevet does not go with the back of the spoon, telling how since 2015 the Authority discovered that certain parts manufactured by Areva for nuclear reactors were ” Poor quality, concealed by falsified records (see our detailed survey on this subject). And it is a safe bet that in the coming weeks and months, the ASN president will continue his campaign of media alert. Why ? Because it is in his interest to take public opinion as a witness of the problems facing the tricolor nuclear industry.
Nouvelle Obs 23rd Nov 2016 read more »