More construction worries for new Hinkley C nuclear reactor

“A French-designed nuclear reactor ordered by Britain is facing further scrutiny after the disclosure that defects were detected in one of the same models under construction in China.

The revelation adds to the string of setbacks that have hit the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) designed by Areva, the French nuclear group.

Britain has ordered two of those reactors for Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK for a generation. They are being built by EDF, the French state energy giant, and China General Nuclear Power Corporation at a cost of £19.5 billion.

China General Nuclear Power Corporation, which is building two reactors in a joint venture with EDF near Macau in southern China, said it had found “local defects” in the Taishan 1 reactor.

It said that welding in the deaerator, which is used to remove oxygen from water circuits, was defective. The parts had been replaced, it said.

Taishan 1 is due to come on stream this month to become the world’s first functioning example of the European reactor. The second Chinese reactor, Taishan 2, is due to come online next year. The $8.7 billion project was initially due to be completed last year, but was delayed by safety concerns.

The problems in China pale by comparison with those affecting other projects. Work on a similar reactor at Olkiluoto in Finland began in 2005 and was supposed to finish in 2009. It is now expected to be in action from 2019.

EDF is also building a reactor at Flamanville in Normandy which was due to begin operating in 2012. Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s chief executive, said yesterday that the reactor would be working by the end of next year.

The reactors at Hinkley Point were originally due to be operational in 2025 but EDF said this summer that they were likely to be 15 months late.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

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