US regulator has no safety concerns over Areva-supplied parts

11 January 2017

A list of large reactor components supplied to US nuclear power plants by Areva's Creusot Forge in France has been released by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). However, the regulator said it has no immediate safety concerns regarding the parts supplied to 17 US reactors.

The upper and bottom heads of the reactor pressure vessel for the EPR under construction as unit 3 of France's Flamanville site were manufactured at the Creusot facility in September 2006 and January 2007, respectively. A high carbon content in those parts prompted Areva to review the company's quality process in 2015.

In May 2016, the French nuclear safety regulator said the ongoing quality audit at the Creusot forge - which Areva bought in 2006 - had identified "irregularities" in paperwork on some 400 plant components produced there since 1965. The issues "comprise inconsistencies, modifications or omissions in the production files, concerning manufacturing parameters and test results", it said.

The NRC said Areva provided a list of US reactors for which vendors placed orders for forgings from Creusot Forge. The list shows that components with forgings from Creusot Forge were supplied to 17 reactors at 13 US sites, directly by Areva or through third-party vendors. The components, it said, are mostly replacement reactor vessel heads, replacement steam generator components or pressurizers.

The NRC said it informed Areva on 30 December of its intention to publish the list of components. In a 10 January statement, Areva said it supported the release of this information.

Areva noted that not all of the components supplied to US plants were installed or put into service. It added, "First and foremost, evaluations to this point confirm the quality and safety of components that Areva directly provided to US utilities."

In a blog post, NRC public affairs officer David McIntyre said: "We are confident at this time that there are no safety concerns for US nuclear power plants raised by the investigations in France." He added, "Our confidence is based on the US material qualification process, preliminary structural evaluations of reactor components under scrutiny in France, US material aging-management programs, our participation in a multinational inspection of Creusot Forge, and information supplied by Areva about the documentation anomalies. Also, the components supplied to US plants have performed well and inspections during their operating life have revealed no safety issues."

McIntyre said, "Because there are no immediate safety concerns, there is no justification for the NRC to order plants to shut down or inspect components, as some groups have suggested." However, he noted, "Should new information raise a specific safety concern, the agency will take appropriate action."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Filed under: France, Regulation, Supply chain, USA