The Flamanville EPR, a nightmare site for EDF


The third-generation Norman reactor, scheduled to be launched in 2012, will not start until the end of 2022 due to faulty welds on the site.

By Nabil Wakim Posted yesterday at 09:01, updated yesterday at 09h06

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The EPR Flamanville, Channel, August 16.
The EPR Flamanville, Channel, August 16. LOU BENOIST / AFP

This is the cursed shipyard for EDF. Launched in 2007, the third generation EPR reactor was initially to be connected to the electricity grid in 2012, and cost around 3.5 billion euros. In practice, it will not start before the end of 2022, at the earliest, and the bill will rise to more than 11 billion euros. An amount likely to be further revised upwards depending on the work that remains to be done.

In 2018, EDF was confident and expected a commissioning in 2020, but the question of welding has upset the ambitions of the electrician. Eight difficult-to-access welds, which pass through the concrete enclosure of the reactor building, must be repaired to obtain the approval of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), which considers that they do not meet the level of requirement presented by EDF originally.

Read also Nuclear: the Flamanville EPR is experiencing new delays and will not be able to start before 2022

After a period of exchanges with ASN during the first half of the year, EDF failed to convince the nuclear "policeman" that it could carry out the necessary work after starting the reactor. "The time it will take to prepare, perform and test the repair, have ASN validate what we have done and then put the installation in a situation to be tested again and prepared for commissioning … brings us in more than three years' timeexplained in July the group's CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy.

EDF is studying several ways of repairing these welds, and the site could be even longer depending on the method chosen. During a hearing before parliamentarians in mid-July, the director of new nuclear projects at EDF, Xavier Ursat, mentioned that the group was studying three schemes of action. "It's only once all that that we will choose the scenario, and only then will we communicate on the schedule and the cost, so probably not before several months", he said, before adding: "In redoing welds, you have to be sure of two things: to guarantee the final result as being correct and not to generate other risks for the installation. "

Wrath facing ASN's choices

First option: EDF could extract all or part of the concerned pipes from the building to carry out repairs. However, this involves dismantling many elements of the structure. This is the most realistic hypothesis, Ursat said. The second solution would be to involve welders inside the enclosure, in a confined space. Finally, a third scenario would consist of sending a robot inserted in the pipework.

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