Areva has announced plans to almost double its manufacturing capacity for heavy components for nuclear power plants at its plant in Chalon/Saint Marcel in eastern France.
|The Chalon manufacturing plant (Image: Areva)
The company said that it will increase annual production capacity at the plant to an average equivalent of 2.7 EPRs, up from current capacity of around 1.7. The Chalon facility produces about 12 large components per year. The gradual ramp-up in capacity will create 200 new jobs, Areva said, mainly in production activities, which will bring employee numbers to 1300.
Investment has already been made to extend the plant's facilities and support the constant adaptation of its production equipment and efforts in the fields of R&D and safety, the company said.
Areva said that the manufacturing capacity increase was needed in order to "keep pace with strong international growth."
Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon commented, "Back in 2002, we decided to look outside our domestic market and concentrate Chalon/Saint-Marcel on producing components for the wider global market."
She added, "Today the plant is a major platform running at full steam, and Areva is spearheading the booming nuclear energy market. And we have been recruiting to keep pace with our success; last year, the group brought in more than 15,000 new hires, and our recruitment drive is set to continue."
The Chalon plant has manufactured more than 600 heavy components since it was first opened in 1973. This includes 292 steam generators, 76 reactor pressure vessels and vessel heads, and 63 replacement reactor vessel heads. More than 500 of the components are installed in French nuclear power plants and 100 in Europe, Asia, South Africa and the USA. Since opening, the Chalon plant has manufactured all the heavy components for French pressurised water reactors (PWRs).
These heavy components form the primary coolant loop of a pressurized water reactor and must withstand high temperatures, high pressures and radiation exposure with high integrity for the 60-year design life of a new power plant.
The plant also produces auxiliary components such as accumulators, auxiliary heat exchangers and supporting elements.
In October 2008, Areva announced plans to mirror its Chalon facility in Newport News, Virginia, USA in partnership with Northrop Grumman. Construction is expected start in the first half of 2009, with the facility scheduled to start up in 2011. It will not forge the largest nuclear plant components, such as reactor pressure vessels, but will take the subcomponents once forged and produce the finished items ready for installation.