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the safety of the French fleet has “generally improved” in 2020

It is a meeting which makes it possible to take stock of the state of nuclear installations, but also to send strong messages, in particular to political leaders, concerning the future of the sector. The President of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), Bernard Doroszczuk, presented his report to parliamentarians on Thursday, May 27, at the end of a year marked by the decision to pave the way for the extension of the lifespan of the oldest reactors.

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The general observation is relatively positive: despite the health crisis, the safety of the park has “Globally improved” in 2020. A year ago, the nuclear gendarme was worried about a “Decline in rigor” in the operation of power plants. But since then, progress has been made: ASN particularly welcomes a “Better monitoring in the control room” and one “More rigorous management” installations by EDF. Paradoxically, the Covid-19 was able to promote this progress. “The postponement of certain activities, the reinforced presence of managers in the field or less pressure placed on reactor shutdowns may have contributed to this improvement”, the Précs Bernard Doroszczuk.

While the overall picture is satisfactory, points of attention remain. ASN noted the persistence of compliance deviations, that is to say modifications or operations which were not carried out in accordance with the specifications and which called into question the capacity of the installations to operate. The project for the third generation EPR reactor at Flamanville (Manche) also remains particularly complex. Marked by many uncertainties, the project has “More margin” compared to its target of commissioning in 2022 and could, on the contrary, experience further delays.

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In March, ASN was in fact informed of new difficulties concerning the welds of three “taps” of the main circuit – the part of a pipe that connects it to another – which were greater than expected. Today, EDF is studying three options for consolidating or repairing them. “These options do not have the same impact at all, the expliqué M. Doroszczuk. Only the first [qui consiste à consolider le piquage en mettant en place des colliers de maintien] would make it possible to stay within the schedule for commissioning in 2022. ” At the same time, EDF is engaged in repairing around a hundred other welds, a separate problem that led the company to announce in 2019 a further delay of at least three years for the EPR.

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