Dans le bâtiment réacteur de l’EPR de Flamanville. Si EDF assure que les aléas rencontrés n’ont « pas d’impact sur la sûreté », les associations s’interrogent sur le démarrage, sachant qu’il faudra l’arrêter ensuite pour des modifications.

Nuclear. Flamanville EPR: for EDF, the reactor will operate at “100% of its power”

In the Flamanville EPR reactor building.  If EDF assures that the dangers found
In the Flamanville EPR reactor building. If EDF assures that the dangers found “have no impact on safety”, the associations wonder about the start-up, knowing that it will have to be stopped later to make modifications. (©Jean-Paul BARBIER/La Manche Press)

” The France needs this reactor, you will not have missed it…” In a context of energy crisis and low availability french nuclear fleetAlain Morvan, the director of the Flamanville 3 (Manche) project, came in person this Thursday, October 20, 2022 in front of the members of the Flamanville Local Information Commission to give their point of view about dangers and anomalies that seem to overwhelm the site.

The EPR will certainly not be available this winter. EDF only planned to load the fuel within a year. And until then, there is still much to be done. But for the project manager, things are on the right track.

conclusive essays

First mention the 122 welds to be updated in the main secondary circuit. All eight located in the reactor containment junction have been repaired. The stress relief heat treatment has been carried out, which consists of heating the weld to 600°C to obtain the required characteristics, and four welds have already been declared compliant.

For the others where access is easier, 83% of welds are made and 57% compliant before heat treatment. Of many tests were also made during summer, particularly the fuel handling chain. “The results are conclusive”, assures Alain Morvan.

Crilan is very lonely

The announcement by the Committee for reflection, information and fight against nuclear energy (Crilan) of the filing, on August 13, before the administrative court of Caen, of an appeal against the departmental council of La Manche has difficulty to prosper among the deputies of the Local Information Commission. It is the operation of this, after the refusal of his office to examine in a general assembly the request for an independent expert opinion on the EPR, which Crilan points out. He asks for 100,000 euros for obstruction.
The unions were the first to step forward. “At the office meeting on January 6, we discussed it for over an hour. There was a round table. The entire office, with the exception of Crilan, did not validate the request for an expert opinion due to the exorbitant cost that it represents”, explains Patrick Luce on behalf of the union college. “On the other hand, our referents are the ASN and the IRSN. We do not agree to challenge these recognized organizations. »
Nor does the trade union intend to participate in “a rewriting of the internal regulations” of the CLI. “Complies with the current texts. “An opinion shared by Jacques Foos in the college of qualified personalities. “The missions of the CLI office are detailed in the statutes and decisions are made there by qualified majority”, he recalls.
“Crilan’s proposal has been discussed,” agrees Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace. “We sought a compromise and the documentary synthesis was maintained. We cannot pretend to go beyond that,” he said. This synthesis of a dozen pages is being prepared for distribution at the beginning of 2023. “The goal is transparency and information for the population”, specifies CLI president Benoît Fidelin.
But the Crilan, through the voice of its president André Jacques, does not move. “Almost a year ago we requested this independent expert report, as established by the Environmental Code. But the departmental council of La Manche did not want it. We always ask that the general assembly of the CLI in Flamanville be able to vote on this expertise”, he claims.

“No safety impact”

Regarding I&C, there are difficulties with systems to measure neutron flux and core temperature.

“There are still cables to lay and connectors to check. The tests will be held in the first semester. »

Alain Moran

The electromagnetic disturbances, highlighted in the reactor of taishan, have no impact on command control in Flamanville. “A study was presented to the Nuclear Safety Authority. »

Another is underway, this time by Framatome, on the failure rate, greater than 4%, of collectors, sensors that allow the neutron flux in the heart to be measured. “It is not a safety problem and we have increased the number of spare parts pending the results of the study”, indicates Alain Morvan. That is, they are consumables that can be changed every time the fuel is recharged.

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“You still have a problem”

“You still have a real flow distribution problem in the core. It is established that you will have to modify the bottom of the tank. It will take at least three years to develop”, intervenes Yannick Rousselet for Greenpeace. “You want to start the reactor when you are going to have to change this baffle, the tank lid as well… All of this is far from optimal. And the IRSN report (Editor’s note. Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety) does not have the same tone as you. »

Regarding this “lower plenum”, Alain Morvan points out that EDF is launching a model to validate its modification. “I don’t have a date to announce, but starting the Flamanville EPR does not represent a security problem. And it will work just fine at 100% power,” he adds.

“Political rather than industrial necessity”

As for the cover change, currently in production, it will take place during a shutdown of the reactor at the end of 2024Y should last between five and six months.

“This beginning is more of a political need than an industrial one”, considers Guy Vastel, on behalf of the Association for the Control of Radioactivity in the West (ACRO). The latter has also asked the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) not to give EDF the green light.

“We have received the request for start-up authorization from EDF. We are examining the file and seeing if everything is in order”, Gaëtan Lafforgue-Mermet, the new head of the division of Caen of the ASN.

the decree of 2007 authorizing the creation of the basic nuclear facility called Flamanville 3 has been extended several times. EDF now has until April 10, 2024 to achieve the first fuel load.

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