ICAN Scottish Partner

Latest Events

Donate to SCND

Amount to donate:
£  GBP  




ScrapTrident


Defects Found in French Nuclear Reactors

The French nuclear safety agency has uncovered a series of defects in the construction of a reactor in Normandy considered to be the template for the next generation of stations due to be built in Britain.

The agency, ASN, says that a quarter of the welds seen in its steel liner – a crucial line of defence if there were to be an accident – are not in accordance with welding norms, and that cracks have been found it its concrete base, also essential for containing radioactivity.

The reports – in a series of letters covering inspections made between December and last month – will cause particular concern because similar defects have been listed in a previous report by the Finnish safety authority into the only other reactor of its type being built anywhere in the world.

The earlier report helped put the Finnish reactor, on the island of Olkiluoto in the Gulf of Bothnia, two years behind schedule, three years after construction began. It is also believed to have helped increase its cost by more than 50 per cent. Similar delays and cost overruns here would play havoc with the Government's nuclear programme, and could even lead to it being abandoned.

The French nuclear safety agency has uncovered a series of defects in the construction of a reactor in Normandy considered to be the template for the next generation of stations due to be built in Britain.

The agency, ASN, says that a quarter of the welds seen in its steel liner – a crucial line of defence if there were to be an accident – are not in accordance with welding norms, and that cracks have been found it its concrete base, also essential for containing radioactivity.

The reports – in a series of letters covering inspections made between December and last month – will cause particular concern because similar defects have been listed in a previous report by the Finnish safety authority into the only other reactor of its type being built anywhere in the world.

The earlier report helped put the Finnish reactor, on the island of Olkiluoto in the Gulf of Bothnia, two years behind schedule, three years after construction began. It is also believed to have helped increase its cost by more than 50 per cent. Similar delays and cost overruns here would play havoc with the Government's nuclear programme, and could even lead to it being abandoned.

However, the design, known as the European Pressurised Reactor, remains the most likely to be built in Britain.

Electricité de France (EDF) – which is constructing the French reactor at Flamanville near the tip of the Normandy peninsula – has said that it wants to build four of them in Britain at a cost of £10bn.

The ASN report says that investigators have identified faults in the pouring of the concrete and in its formulation. There appears to be an "insufficient" course of action in preparing for concreting and "insufficiency of technical control".

Independent nuclear expert John Large says that the faults found on both the French and Finnish sites reflect a lack of recent experience in building nuclear reactors and that similar problems could arise when construction of a new generation begins in Britain.