Thursday, 9 April 2015
Faults found in EPR rector core threaten projects in France, China and the UK
As if things were not bad enough for the prospect of completing constructions of the ailing European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design, things have now gotten worse with the discovery of a serious flaw in the reactor design. This threatens the future of the already very late EPR at Flamanville in France, but also may threaten the completion of two (also late) EPRs being built in Taishan, China, the disastrously late plant at Olikuoto Finland and the increasingly unlikely plans for a twin reactor for Hinkley C in the UK (see previous blog post). This is because the company that produced the faulty reactor also makes parts for the other EPRs.
This turn of events has been dubbed 'a disaster for French nuclear power' by Le Parisien newspaper. According to Reuters the French nuclear regulators (ASN) have been told that tests 'had shown that in certain zones of the reactor vessel and cover of the EPR there was a significant concentration of carbon, which weakens the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks.....' .AREVA (the French state owned nuclear constructors) 'declined to comment on whether the tests would lead to new delays for Flamanville and impact three other EPRs under construction, one in Olkiluoto, Finland, two in Taishan, China.'
There is interest in the impact on the Chinese reactors insofar a) the extent to which the reactors for China are being made by the same company as is supplying the French parts b) the way that the Chinese regulatory authorities will respond to any problems that may exist. In the past the French nuclear regulator has complained about a lack of cooperation with their Chinese regulatory counterparts.
Updates: 1) Chinese safety regulators say that Taishan plant will not be commissioned until safety issues addressed - Chinese regulators will cooperate with French nuclear regulators. See https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/5808-Chinese-nuclear-di
2) French nuclear safety chief dubs reactor flaws as 'very serious'. Analysts are lining up to pronounce doom for the UK new nuclear programme and the French nuclear industry as a whole. See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-nuclear-strategy-faces-meltdown-as-faults-are-found-in-identical-french-project-10186163.html
3) 'A disaster for French nuclear power'; http://www.leparisien.fr/economie/epr-de-flamanville-un-desastre-pour-le-nucleaire-francais-17-04-2015-4700983.php#xtor=AD-1481423551&xtref=http%3A%2F%2Fl.facebook.com%2Fl%2FJAQEZKnSRAQELHhOEXJfR04LAojkCTfIYtD2e6fwXqbhgDw%2Fwww.leparisien.fr%2Feconomie%2Fepr-de-flamanville-un-desastre-pour-le-nucleaire-francais-17-04-2015-4700983.php%2523xtor%3DAD-1481423551