Discovery of a major crack in a nuclear power plant in France
A major crack due to corrosion was discovered in one of the giant EDF's nuclear power plants in France, raising questions about its production capacities and adding to many past setbacks.
< p>After the discovery of this crack, detected in a shutdown reactor in Seine-Maritime (north), the French nuclear policeman, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), summoned the group to “revise its strategy to solve the problems that have plagued its power plants since the end of 2021.
A corrosion phenomenon was then uncovered in pipes crucial for the safety of the power plants, forcing the many reactors shut down for checks and repairs.
The unprecedented industrial crisis suffered by EDF in 2021 was accompanied by historic losses (17.9 billion euros in 2022) and had aroused concern in France where the share of electricity of nuclear origin is the largest in the world. world.
After ASN's formal notice, EDF may have to carry out more exhaustive research and inspections of its nuclear fleet in France, raising uncertainty about the availability of its production capacities (56 reactors).
According to an ASN official, Julien Collet, the discovery of the crack at Penly in Seine-Maritime will lead to an extension of shutdowns of other sites for checks, but there should be “no massive shutdowns” .
Currently, of the 16 most recent reactors identified as the most sensitive, 10 reactors still need to be checked and repaired in 2023.
For Karine Herviou, deputy director general of the IRSN, considered in France as the scientific police of nuclear safety, the discovery of the important crack “is beyond what is acceptable, from a safety point of view”.
In 2021, “it was already a serious problem when we had 6 millimeter cracks”, today “with 23 millimeters, it's very serious”, she added, referring to a risk of rupture and therefore of leakage.
Established in 23 countries, EDF claims the rank of first nuclear operator in the world. Two new generation EPR reactors in service in China and others are planned in India or the United Kingdom, but their commissioning is delayed.