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French nuclear probe could impact on Hinkley Point

January 5, 2017

By Paul Homewood




More problems looming for Hinkley.

PEI report:


The French regulator, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) is planning a more thorough investigation into the Areva nuclear power company as concerns about part quality and documentation remain.
There is a particular focus on whether a practice of falsifying documents, or cutting corners on document accuracy, have facilitated poor quality nuclear equipment parts.
David Emond, head of Areva’s component manufacturing business, said that while 70 components with falsified documents had found their way into
French nuclear reactors — and 120 into overseas power plants — no safety problems has so far been discovered.
“It was wrong, but it seems to have been more of a cultural problem than a safety-related technical problem,” he said.
The situation is compounded by issues uncovered relating to the nuclear reactor to be used at the EDF-owned
Flamanville nuclear power plant in France. A two year-long investigation is to conclude with the presentation of a report to the ASN in the coming weeks.
According to a report in the FT, if the structural weaknesses initially found on the reactor vessel are as serious as feared it could have an effect on the development of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in the UK.

Julien Collet

EDF’s British plant is set to use the same technology as its sister plant and the financial support package the UK government has offered for Hinkley is premised on Flamanville being operational by 2020.
Any significant problems with the Flamanville reactor vessel would mean restarting much of the construction work in France, which is already billions of euros over budget and years late.
The focus of that part of the investigation is Areva’s component factory at Le Creusot where some steel components— notably parts used in steam generators — were found to have excessive carbon levels, which could make them vulnerable to cracking.
Julien Collet (above right), deputy director of the ASN, France’s nuclear regulator, said he wanted to “go much further” with investigations into Areva’s components.
The ASN ordered a halt to operations at 18 plants for a short time after the discovery of high carbon levels in components made at the facility. The ASN also said some of the components with high carbon levels were supplied by Japan Casting and Forging Corporation, acting as a subcontractor to Areva.
All the plants have since been allowed to restart, and the ASN and EDF have said there are no safety concerns.

  1. tom0mason permalink
    January 5, 2017 11:48 am

    Such a shame that the UK has no industry that can manufacture these types of steel products. I wonder if China could help out?

    • RogerJC permalink
      January 5, 2017 1:59 pm

      Sheffield Forgemasters used to make this sort of thing but if they no longer have the ability China and the US have been bought Reactor Vessels from Korea, why not us?

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 5, 2017 8:09 pm

        “Sheffield Forgemasters used to make this sort of thing but if they no longer have the ability”

        Mostly because David “Cast Iron Promise” Cameron refused to clear a short term loan…

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 5, 2017 2:00 pm

      Didn’t Old Gordy Broon flog them off to the Japanese? Ours would probably produce them to correct quality and not to their cut price fraudulent spec.

      A bit hopeful of Flamanville being in operation by 2020. Only 3 years away now.

      • RogerJC permalink
        January 5, 2017 2:09 pm

        Just had a web search and according to the Internet and their website they have a 4,000ton press especially bought for the manufacture of heavy nuclear vessels and parts.

  2. Athelstan permalink
    January 5, 2017 1:58 pm

    ” I wonder if China could help out?”

    You need the control of pure steel, to prevent the body from the desire to larf loud at that, I do presume that, you were being ever so slightly sarcastic – tom0…………….?

    • tom0mason permalink
      January 5, 2017 2:31 pm

      Just a little.

      • Athelstan permalink
        January 5, 2017 3:13 pm

        ;*0) oi!

  3. AlecM permalink
    January 5, 2017 3:01 pm

    Every decision made by Blair, Brown then Cameron was wrong. Blair is an arrogant, scheming dreamer. Brown is an arrogant fool with no strategic ability. Cameron combines all these deficits because he was chosen to be our new Mosley.

  4. Athelstan permalink
    January 5, 2017 3:38 pm

    The opening of Calder Hall in the mid Fifties encapsulated some rather unbridled enthusiasm for the ‘free power’! Yes, fission was going to provide for the nation, looking at some Pathe news reels from thereabouts that time in the Fifties, the idea that science would the key to unlock a world of technological advances undreamt of girded hopes for a better future in drab post war Britain.

    We we’re world leaders, our safety record though not perfect was second to none – our UK Physics and nuclear research facilities were the best in the world.

    A go ahead nation in the Fifties, by the Seventies – all that had changed and the ‘three mile island incident’ put the willies up the governments of the day and future PMs, not least Maggie.

    Now, such is the demise in British engineering know how and technological prowess gone down the toilet, probably – in Somerset if the thing ever gets the go ahead……we won’t even be able to mix the concrete.
    These days, the UK specializes in teaching kids boogger all, then off they go into big government for the sake of more government, endless quangoes, consultancies auditors, ambulance chasers screwing the nation, and more BS talk shops, banksters selling dodgy financial packages to numb minded consumers and oh we make cars for the Japs. At this minute Hammond that tosser some name a chancellor is seeking to set ever more onerous taxes on the one thing that does still work in the UK – SMEs.

    Nuclear power, it’s gone, blame the green tosserati who moved over from days of ‘Ban the BOMB’ oh and that mad ***ch Rachel Carson.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      January 5, 2017 8:28 pm

      In the Fifties not only did we open the World’s first nuclear power station, we produced the World’s fastest production motorcycle – the Vincent Black Lightning, the World’s fastest production car – the Jaguar XK120 and held the world land speed record – John Cobb’s Napier Railton, water speed record – Donald Campbell’s Bluebird, air speed record – Peter Twiss piloting the Fairey Delta 2, and the fastest steam train in the World.

      The Americans even bought a license to build the English Electric Canberra.

      Under development were such World-beating aircraft as the TSR2 and the Hawker P1154 – a supersonic version of the Hawker Harrier which would have given the capability of the F-35 in the mid-1960s, to name but two World-leading aviation projects.

      What the Fcuk happened???

      (Actually, what happened was Socialism and USSR-inspired Useful Idiots, and not just in the Labour movement either…and they haven’t been exterminated – yet)

      • Russ Wood permalink
        January 7, 2017 3:18 pm

        Just an aside on the TSR2 – I once worked with an engineer who’d been on that project, and the incoming Labour Minister of De Fence not only ordered the project shut down, but also ordered that the jigs and drawings be destroyed. Years later, the RAF had to buy F111s from the USA to do the same job.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 7, 2017 5:23 pm

        “but also ordered that the jigs and drawings be destroyed”

        The turbines built for the TSR2 were capable of pushing it in excess of Mach 1 at low level without afterburner, a capability known as supercruise.

        The turbines themselves and all the research data were destroyed, and it was a further two decades before there was another engine or plane capable of that.

        Another interesting example of the British government chucking away a World-leading project was the Miles M52, which would have given us a gas turbine-driven research plane capable of exceeding Mach 1 for extended periods. However, the British government donated much of the critical research data to the USA and closed the project down, despite it being around 90% ready for flight.

        Bell stuck the critical bits on the X1 firework which was giving trouble and beat us to the sound barrier, gaining years of knowledge and experience that we should have acquired in the UK.

        Captain Eric Brown wrote a very informative book on the subject, incidentally.

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