Located in Normandy, France, the European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) will be the third unit of the Flamanville nuclear plant.

Construction of the 1650MWe Flamanville EPR started in December 2007 with initial completion targeted in 2013, reported Reuters.

Following several delays, the project’s fuel loading was last schedule in the fourth quarter of 2018.

However, EDF, earlier this year, detected problems with the welds in the secondary system of the Flamanville EPR.

The quality deviations were detected on the welding of the pipes of the main secondary system during the initial comprehensive inspection, which is a regulatory requirement prior to the plant startup.

EDF said that in accordance with industrial procedures, the consortium of contractors responsible for manufacturing the system have controlled the welds and each weld has been declared compliant as it was realized.

At that time, EDF decided to conduct additional controls on the 150 welds on the main secondary system.

As part of this work, EDF has now inspected 148 of the 150 welds in the secondary system of the Flamanville EPR and identified 33 as quality deficiencies. The welds are planned to be repaired.

The firm further said that the two remaining welds are scheduled to be inspected before the end of July this year, and also rework a further 20 welds although they do not have any defects.

According to the company, these 20 welds do not comply with the “high quality” requirements as defined during the EPR design phase.

EDF said in s abatement: “For 10 other welds, EDF has submitted a proposal to the ASN detailing a specific justification method to confirm the high level of safety at the plant throughout its operating life. The ASN will conduct an in-depth examination of this method.”

As a result, EDF has increased the construction cost of the project from €10.5bn to €10.9bn, while the fuel loading has been delayed by a year until the fourth quarter of 2019.

EDF said: “EDF teams and their industrial partners are fully mobilized and are continuing all other assembly and testing activities at the Flamanville EPR, including the system performance tests. The “hot tests” are scheduled to commence before the end of 2018.”