French nuclear regulator fears “epidemic” safety-culture collapse at Flamanville: disaster looms for EDF

Almost 150 more weld failures (beyond those discovered earlier, as reviewed in the article) mean the nuclear plant scheduled online in 2012 at a cost of €3.5bn is now delayed to 2020, probably, at a cost of €10.5bn, and counting.

Thierry Charles, deputy director general, Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), the technical arm of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN): “The expected high level of quality was not specified (Editor’s note: by EDF), the conformity of supplies to the specification could not be attested”, plus “the qualification of the welding procedures […] ] does not respect all the rules of art. Charles cites concerns over “other categories of mechanical equipment” than the pipes of the secondary circuit. He flags “human and organizational failures” and “lack of rigor of suppliers”. he ascribes all this to the “inadequacies of the monitoring system put in place by EDF” to check the conformity of the work of its subcontractors and he fears “dysfunction potentially damaging to safety”. He has invited the ASN to summon EDF to thoroughly review its organization “to improve the quality of realization of welds and make its monitoring system more effective”. In a final, potentially lethal, blow to EDF he argues that “additional controls will be requested on other circuits of the reactor to verify that there is no epidemic.”

Readers will need no reminding that this reactor is supposed to be the forerunner of the exact model intended for Hinkley Point C in the UK. I hardly need to elaborate.

Image: Wikipedia, the plant at night

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