February 5, 2018 / 1:03 PM / 5 months ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-EDF says no cracks or hydrogen defects in French nuclear reactor vessels

(Adds dropped word in paragraph 10)

* EDF responds to weekend media report

* Denies report of certain flaws in nuclear reactor vessels

By Bate Felix

PARIS, Feb 5 (Reuters) - French utility EDF on Monday denied that there were micro cracks and hydrogen defects in some of its nuclear reactor vessels, in response to a weekend newspaper article and yet-to-be-published book that is expected to reveal safety issues.

The state-controlled utility said it was totally focused on the safety of its nuclear reactors.

It added that a number of issues raised by the book and cited by the article were already known, had been flagged to the ASN nuclear regulator, and had been dealt with.

“A number of the things that were stated in the article were known already known, such as the fact that Tricastin was built below the canal water level,” Dominique Miniere, who heads EDF’s nuclear and thermal power generation division, told journalists during a conference call.

“Also, the fact that the are some defects in the coating layer of some of our reactor vessels were also known and had been analyzed by the regulator,” he added.

French weekend newspaper Journal du Dimanche (JDD), reported over the weekend that a yet-to-be-published book, titled “Nuclear: Immediate Danger”, will reveal ongoing issues plaguing the 58 French nuclear reactors operated by EDF.

Among the issues cited by the article were micro cracks in reactor core tanks, similar to those that discovered in Belgium’s Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear reactors, that had led to a prolonged shutdown of the reactors.

It also cited the issue of trapped hydrogen in the core tanks.

“Some other issues that were presented as new are pure lies. These are completely untrue, such as the fact that three new micro cracks were found in Tricastin 1 during the third decennial overhaul. This is a lie,” Miniere said.

He added that the issue of trapped hydrogen defects in some forged nuclear components was already known within the industry and that EDF had taken measures during the construction of its reactor vessels to make sure these defects did not occur.

Miniere added that after the problems with the couple of Belgian reactors were revealed, the ASN regulator had asked EDF to re-read all the manufacturing documents linked to its reactor vessels and carried out checks on six additional vessels.

“None of the vessels showed any defects due to hydrogen,” Miniere said, added that the Belgian reactors that were found to have the micro cracks, were not manufactured in France.

The newspaper article said French reactors that had similar defects to the Belgian reactors included Bugey 2, Gravelines 5, St Alban 1, Golfech 5, Cruas 1 and Penly 1.

“I don’t know where this list came from. This is a complete lie,” Miniere said, adding that EDF had carried out tests in liaison with the ASN on Bugey 3, Dampierre 3, Blayais 2, Penly 2 and Graveline 4 and Cruas 3 reactors.

EDF shares were down 1.8 percent in mid-session trading, amid a drop in broader European stock markets. (Reporting by Bate Felix Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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