World News

French nuclear watchdog extends lifespan of EDF's ageing reactors

PARIS (Reuters) - More than half of EDF’s nuclear reactors can operate for a decade longer than originally planned after maintenance work is carried out at the energy company’s plants, France’s nuclear safety watchdog ASN said on Thursday.

It said following the changes EDF’s 32 900 Megawatt (MW) reactors would have a lifespan of 50 years rather than 40.

The long-awaited ruling comes as many of state-controlled EDF’s 58 nuclear plants, built in the 1970s and 1980s, are coming to the end of their lifespan.

The decision closed the generic phase of the review process, which covers possible modifications to installations common to all 900 MW reactors. The next stage will identify required modifications to reactors on a case-by-case basis.

The general modifications and updated requirements will be applied during a review period scheduled to take place over ten years until 2031, where the specific features of each reactor will be taken into account.

The first assessment is scheduled for the Tricastin 1 reactor in the south of France in 2022.

EDF will need to report annually on the actions taken to meet the modifications required by their prescribed deadlines, as well as on its ability to carry out the necessary changes in time, ASN said.

The regulator has also requested that the reports on the modifications are made public.

ASN posted a draft of the opinion in December 2020 for public review, but the final decision initially set for the end of the year was delayed due to specific industrial and operating constraints.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Sarah White and Forrest Crellin; Editing by David Clarke and Jan Harvey