A quality control issue involving welds for the secondary cooling system threatens to disrupt the completion schedule of the EPR reactor in Flamanville, France, according to media reports.
After a lengthy controversy involving substandard quality of steel and numerous paperwork questions concerning components from AREVA's Le Creusot forge, including vessel containment components already installed at Flamanville, French utility EDF (Electricite de France) said that some of the weldings in the secondary cooling system at the Flamanville Unit 3 construction site did not meet with their own stringent quality specifications, even though they had been approved of by ASN, the country's nuclear power regulator (Autorite de Surete Nucleaire). The welds in question involve pipes that bring steam from the steam generator to the turbine, according to Nuclear Engineering International.
An EDF spokeswoman said that a majority of the welds, 38 out of 66, did not meet the company's high standards. After the story became public, however, the head of the nuclear regulator ASN Pierre Franck Chevet told a parliamentary committee that the problem was worse than originally suspected, noting “I cannot confirm EDF's assertion that there would not be an impact on Flamanville's schedule.”
The EPR unit at Flamanville is already nine years behind schedule. It is expected to be ready for fuel loading in 2019.
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