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France asks EDF to prepare to build 6 EPR reactors in 15 years -Le Monde

FILE PHOTO: An EDF worker on the construction site of the third-generation European Pressurised Water nuclear reactor (EPR) in Flamanville, France, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government has asked power utility EDF to prepare plans to construct six EPR nuclear reactors over the next 15 years, Le Monde newspaper said on its website on Monday.

Quoting a letter sent by Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire to EDF’s chairman, Le Monde said the company would be required to build three pairs of EPR reactors on three sites.

State-controlled EDF declined to comment on the report, but a French finance ministry official said it was a mission letter and not the basis for any future decisions.

The French government’s requirement is part of longer-term planning for when EDF has completed the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor under construction in the north of France.

The EPR model is the latest generation of reactor being built by EDF, with complex engineering and enhanced safety features that were put in place after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan.

The Flamanville EPR, however, has been plagued by cost overruns and a series of technical problems resulting in years of delays.

The plant is now expected to start operating in 2023, more than a decade later than initially planned.

Another EPR, the Olkiluoto reactor under construction in Finland, has also suffered years of delays and run billions of euros over budget. So far the only two EPRs in operation are the Taishan 1 and 2 reactors in China.

Reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by David Goodman