A government-led rescue of French nuclear group Areva and the wider atomic energy industry may cost the state as much as 10 billion euros, but political support is almost certain whoever wins the presidential election in May. While taxpayers will ultimately pick up the huge bill, the main election contenders – from the Socialists and conservatives to the far-right National Front – broadly back the bailout, which involves splitting up Areva. On top of its dire financial state, Areva is beset by technical, regulatory and legal problems. But given its importance to a nuclear industry that generates three quarters of France’s electricity and employs 220,000 people, the next government probably has little choice but to stand by the scheme hatched under outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande.
Euro News 4th Jan 2017 read more »
The French regulator, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) is planning a more thorough investigation into the Areva nuclear power company as concerns about part quality and documentation remain. There is a particular focus on whether a practice of falsifying documents, or cutting corners on document accuracy, have facilitated poor quality nuclear equipment parts. David Emond, head of Areva’s component manufacturing business, said that while 70 components with falsified documents had found their way into French nuclear reactors — and 120 into overseas power plants — no safety problems has so far been discovered. “It was wrong, but it seems to have been more of a cultural problem than a safety-related technical problem,” he said. The situation is compounded by issues uncovered relating to the nuclear reactor to be used at the EDF-owned Flamanville nuclear power plant in France. A two year-long investigation is to conclude with the presentation of a report to the ASN in the coming weeks. According to a report in the FT, if the structural weaknesses initially found on the reactor vessel are as serious as feared it could have an effect on the development of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in the UK.
Power Engineering International 4th Jan 2017 read more »