AREVA says that it delivered a new reactor pressure vessel head for unit 3 of the Tihange nuclear plant in Belgium to operator Electrabel on 16 March.

The stainless steel component, which weighs over 60t, was machined at AREVA’s Le Creusot plant, then assembled and welded at its Chalon Saint-Marcel facility. It left the factory on 26 January and travelled 800km to the Belgian nuclear plant. The control rod drive mechanisms were manufactured at the AREVA Jeumont plant and were welded onto the vessel head once at the site.

The replacement RPV head is due to be installed during planned reactor maintenance operations. The AREVA services teams from Chalon will mount the assembled head onto the reactor vessel body after it has been loaded into the reactor building. Verification and inspection operations will follow the installation, AREVA says.

Patrick Poret, director of AREVA’s heavy equipment production line, said: "The delivery of the reactor vessel head to the Tihange nuclear power plant is an important milestone for this project and marks the culmination of over three years of work by the teams to meet the requirements of our customer Electrabel."

In 2011, AREVA received an order to manufacture two of the four vessel heads to be replaced at the Doel and Tihange plants.

Photo: Vessel head for Tihange 3 (Copyright AREVA/Alexandra Quatrain)