Safety Flaws Revealed at New French Reactor

From the Inbox, thanks to Jim P. The USA has plans to build 7 of these reactors. When will they ever learn?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Safety Flaws Revealed at New French Reactor (Telegraph Article)

A letter from the French nuclear safety watchdog and leaked to Greenpeace France has revealed numerous construction and safety flaws at the site of the first European Pressurized Reactor to be built in northern France. The four-page letter, directed toward the construction manager at Flamanville where the reactor is being built, demanded to know, among many questions, why concrete had been poured over faulty steel frames discovered during a site inspection. The safety watchdog found numerous other problems at the site. The letter constitutes a shocking indictment of short-cuts, mistakes and substandard construction.

Ironically, the scandal was revealed just as French premier, Nicolas Sarkozy, was touting French nuclear technology to his British counterpart, U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown. Together, the two leaders have made a pact – the “entente formidable” – to market nuclear energy around the world.

The problems in France mirror those that have occurred at the only other EPR construction site – at Olkiluoto in Finland – where delays, cost over-runs and similar technical mistakes with the concrete pour have set the project back at least two years. The cost over-run is currently estimated at $1.5 billion. Who ultimately pays the bill will likely be contested in court, but French taxpayers are expected to bear the brunt of the costs. In addition, Finnish electricity users will lose billions of Euros because of the delay.

Seven of the French EPR reactors – whose name has been changed in the U.S. to “Evolutionary Pressurized Reactor,” presumably to mask its overseas origins – are scheduled to be constructed at six U.S. sites. But the examples of Flamanville and Finland should warn us that we are about to make a disastrous mistake – potentially costly not only in dollars but in the safety and security of surrounding communities.

More info at Beyond Nuclear


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