Areva and EDF face unexpected costs
VERONIQUE LE BILLON DEPUTY HEAD OF DIVISION – 09/02 - LES ÉCHOS
Both groups must comply to a new ASN complex regulation (ASN: Nuclear Safety Agency) The restart of a reactor in Le Blayais nuclear plant shall face a delay of several months.
In Le Blayais nuclear plant, located along the Gironde mouth, the reactor number 3 was stopped in late July 2014, during its third decennial visit; this stop corresponds to a lengthy maintenance aiming at extending its lifespan for ten additional years. This reactor of MW900 should have been restarted in early 2015, fitted with three new steam generators.
More than a month later, the steam generators are still stored in a warehouse, waiting for their conformity statement. What for? the nuclear equipment must comply to the new regulation about pressurized nuclear equipment (such as tanks, steam generators, among others), which compels the operator to produce more justifications and safety exercises. “Areva has not brought all the safety justifications required for their mounting and their commissioning”, says the Nuclear Safety Agency (ASN, French acronym).
|Map of French nuclear power plants with reactors capacities|
A €1 million loss per every production day
Thus, EDF does not expect this reactor to be started before next summer. This delay generates huge over-costs for a project which was first assessed at €112 million. EDF, the manager of the operation risk, assesses that the loss faced for each missed day of production corresponds to €1 million – which would amount to €180 million for a six months’ time. On its side, Areva will be charged for the badly budgeted cost corresponding to the conformity updating and to the complete standstill of its equipment and staff.
But this problem does not affect Le Blayais nuclear plant only: mid-November, EDF put these new regulations forward to justify the postponement of the commissioning of Flamanville EPR (in Manche). “ This regulation allows the detecting of defaults on the lid tank of Flamanville EPR at the level of the adapters weldings. This fact has consequences, as the tank lid is not yet ready”, explains Rémy Catteau, manager of ASN pressurized nuclear equipment.
Even if nobody questions the pertinence of the new regulation, implementing it may have significant consequences on all chains of the sector, as the “lengthy refit” is about to start soon. This programme of heavy maintenance affecting EDF nuclear infrastructures shall begin officially in April, with the third decennial visit of the first MW1,300 reactor, namely Paluel 2.
The impact of the new regulation shall be heavier than expected, as the steam generators or the equipment of Flamanville EPR have escaped from the implementation of the new safety rules, because of a scheduled transitory period. It won’t be the same for all the equipment in course of production dedicated to the maintenance of the MW1,300 reactors. EDF has been yet compelled to find a way to escape this new set of regulations in Paluel 2, by shifting some works at the end of the scheduled stop.