“EDF feels heat from nuclear weld problems”

Hinkley C nuclear plant is where the vast majority og our regional funds have been placed by our Local Enterprise Partnership – many of whose board members have a direct or indirect financial interest in the project.

“The French state electricity group building Britain’s new nuclear plant suffered another setback yesterday when it admitted to possible faults with components used in reactors in France.

The disclosure alarmed investors, raised a new question mark over the French nuclear industry and will fuel speculation that slipshod practices have gained hold in a sector that supplies about three quarters of the country’s electricity.

EDF said that a factory that made steam generators used in nuclear reactors had failed to follow standard procedures. The problem was with the welds on the generators, it said.

The factory is in Saint-Marcel, central France, and is owned by Framatome, a French nuclear group in which EDF has a majority stake. The plant supplies heavy equipment for the French nuclear industry and has provided components for 106 reactors worldwide.

EDF said that Framatome had informed it of “a deviation from technical standards governing the manufacture of nuclear reactor components”. It said that the problem concerned components already installed in reactors, as well as those being prepared for future use. A spokesman for the French Nuclear Safety Authority said that about 20 functioning reactors built after 2008 were believed to be affected.

“EDF, along with Framatome, has been conducting in-depth investigations to identify all affected components and reactors, as well as to ascertain their fitness for service,” EDF said.

The setback comes after a factory in nearby Le Creusot, which belonged to Areva and is now part of Framatome, admitted to having failed to follow safety test procedures during the manufacture of nuclear components. The Nuclear Safety Authority said that test results appeared to have been falsified and added that it had alerted prosecutors to possible fraud.

The latest scandal could hardly have come at a worse time for EDF, which said this summer that the launch of its new-generation nuclear reactor had suffered a further delay. The reactor in Flamanville, Normandy, will now come on stream in 2022, a decade after it was meant to be operating.

EDF is leading the project to build two similar reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £19.6 billion. They are due to come on stream in 2025.

With difficulties mounting for EDF, its share price fell sharply on the Paris stock market, and closed down 74 cents, or 6.8 per cent, at €10.12.”

Source: Times (paywall)

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