This is an ongoing story, difficult to pin down because the number of “off-line” French EDF reactors fluctuates, some for “maintenance”, some for “inspection”, some awaiting paperwork for inspection and, apparentl,y some maybe even “cleared”. Are there 20, 15, 12 sites, or actual individual reactors ? We’ll see if we can pin it all down.
But what is factual, and indicative, is that France is preparing contingency plans for serious winter power cuts.
And suspended its nuclear de-commissioning programme for old reactors.
The root cause seems to be the “too much carbon” in the steel reactor vessels and major pipeworks. This “too much carbon in the steel” issue may also connect to falsified documentation on major spare parts for reactors which seem to have been traded at world level between different reactor owners and types.
So, for example, the French regulators (ASN) earlier this year told the UK regulators (ONR) to check paperwork and parts for Sizewell B, whose only connection as machinery that anyone knew about was ownership.
It was constructed in the 1980s, came on line in 1995, was CEGB-owned and then sold to Brtitish Energy, which collapsed, selling off (cheap?) to EDF.
One can only suppose, reasonably, that Sizewell bought carbon-faulty steel parts from AREVA, the French nuclear engineers who work with EDF, have gone bust and been taken over by EDF. They would have commissioned the problematic steel from the big French foundry which supplies these specialist parts.
There is a lot more to come out of this story, including how this carbon-in-steel problem relates to other problems of safety uprating and old reactor life extension in France. And, given that EDF is now globally known to be very, very short of money and credit – and EPR customers – how do expensive downtimes and engineering problems and safety uprating costs – and decommissioning costs – feed into real prospects for what is supposed to be a big, steady, stable, long-life technology?
Answer? At a minimum, it doesn’t look very “sustainable”, or indeed, given these multiple crises, very “resilient”, either.