Électricité de France (EDF) revealed its plans to begin “hot tests” at the 1650MW Flamanville 3 nuclear reactor project in France in the second half of next month.


Image: The Flamanville nuclear power plant. Photo: courtesy of Havang(nl)/Wikipedia.

Construction on the Flamanville unit 3, which is a European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR), started in December 2007. However, it could not be completed yet due to multiple factors.

Currently, EDF said that it continues to execute the action plan on welds of the main secondary system of the reactor as announced in July 2018.

The company said that its team and that of its industrial partners continue to be fully mobilized to wrap up loading of nuclear fuel during the fourth quarter of this year.

Located in the Normandy region, the Flamanville nuclear plant has two operating pressurized water reactors (PWRs) that generate 1.3GW of power each. The first reactor began operations in 1986 while the second unit was brought into service about a year later.

The third reactor was initially targeted to be completed in 2012 with the cost being €3.3bn.

Back in December 2012, EDF said that the estimated costs of Flamanville unit 3 escalated to €8.5bn while the completion of construction pushed back to 2016.

It was followed by Enel’s decision to relinquish its stake of 12.5% in the nuclear power project, and five future EPRs.

Over the years, the cost of the project moved up, plagued by various reasons, with the latest being the €10.9bn figure.

In February 2017, an explosion and fire were reported at the under construction nuclear reactor resulting from a mechanical problem with a fan in the turbine hall.

Although the accident was non-nuclear and did not lead to any radioactive leak, it resulted in the first reactor of the power plant to be disconnected from the power grid.

In June 2017, the French regulator gave a provisional ruling that the Flamanville 3 reactor is safe to begin operations.

About a year ago, EDF reported that cold functional tests at the reactor were completed but in February 2018, the project received a setback as the company identified that certain secondary cooling circuit welds did not comply with specifications, thereby causing further delays.