| LE CREUSOT, France
LE CREUSOT, France Irregularities found in manufacturing tracking records for reactor components produced by French nuclear group Areva's Le Creusot factory are no reason for reactor shutdowns, a senior Areva executive said on Wednesday.
After Areva discovered in May 2016 that some manufacturing documentation for components made at its Creusot Forge unit may have been falsified, the firm in October started a review of 6,000 nuclear component manufacturing files from the 1965-2013 period.
This review of the archives of Creusot Forge, which supplies the nuclear market with large forgings and castings, will take until the end of this year.
Areva head of components manufacturing David Emond told reporters at the site that the firm so far had investigated about 630 component tracking documents and had found that 210 of these included irregularities.
For each of these irregularities, which relate to the manufacturing process of the components, Areva has made a so-called deviation report.
More than half of these deviation reports concerned reactors in France, he said. The rest were for reactors abroad, including in the United States and China.
"None (of these reports) is cause for worry and there is no need to close reactors," he said.
He said all of these reports had been sent to the relevant customers, who would discuss them with their own national nuclear regulator. He said the countries included the United States and China but declined to name others.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a letter showing that 17 of the country's nuclear reactors have parts from Areva's Le Creusot forge.
The NRC has investigated whether the suspected falsification of manufacturing documents posed any risks for U.S. reactors, but it has found that the plants are safe.
Emond said the only reactor that had been closed following issues with its tracking documents was French utility EDF's Fessenheim 2 reactor, which was halted in June 2016 after irregularities were found in the manufacturing documentation for one of its steam generators.
Emond said Creusot-Forge had now completed tests on components similar to the ones used in the Fessenheim reactor and sent a report to French nuclear regulator ASN.
"Our report shows the reactor can operate safely," he said.
Emond denied French press reports that Creusot Forge no longer worked for the nuclear industry.
"Le Creusot continues to work for nuclear industry. We are and will remain a leader in the foundry business for the nuclear industry," he said.
(Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Toni Reinhold)