EDF on track with Flamanville performance testing

09 October 2017

EDF is preparing for the next stage of system performance testing at the Flamanville EPR, with a view to the fuel loading and reactor start-up at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018. The company has thus confirmed its roadmap for Flamanville 3 drawn up in September 2015 and that the project cost is set at €10.5 billion (2015 rate, excluding interim interest).

The system performance tests - which confirm and test how all the EPR circuits are working - began in the first quarter of this year and, having completed the so-called 'chasse en cuve' (vessel flushing operations) during the summer, EDF is now preparing for two new phases. These are the cold tests, which will start in the second fortnight of December, and the hot tests, which will start in July 2018.

The cold tests will include water tightness tests in the reactor's primary circuit at a pressure of over 240 bars (higher than the pressure of the circuit when it is operating). The hot tests will involve checking the equipment under similar temperature and pressure conditions to those under which it will operate. More than 1000 engineers and technicians working for EDF and industry partners have been mobilised to carry out these system performance tests, the company said.

Construction work began in December 2007 on the 1650 MWe unit at the Flamanville site in Normandy – where two reactors have been operating since 1986 and 1987. The dome of the reactor building was put in place in July 2013 and the reactor vessel was installed in January 2014. The reactor was originally expected to start commercial operation in 2013, but owing to delays this is now expected in late 2018.

The French nuclear regulator, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), provisionally ruled in June that the unit could start up safely next year, but that the head of its reactor pressure vessel (RPV) would need to be replaced by the end of 2024. Areva NP revealed its discovery of an anomaly in the composition of the steel in certain zones of the RPV's closure head and bottom head in April 2015. The engineering group started a test program to demonstrate that the mechanical strength of the steel is sufficient in all operating situations. Its conclusions were sent to ASN in December last year.

ASN's approval of the start of operations at Flamanville 3 is a European Commission precondition for approving EDF's planned takeover of Areva's reactor business.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News