France's Areva agrees to modify reactor design

PARIS, Nov 2 (Reuters) - France's Areva CEPFi.PA said on Monday it would modify the design of its European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) before the end of the year, following a request by the French, UK and Finnish nuclear safety bodies.

The bodies asked in a joint statement that the control and safety systems within the reactor be independent from each other to avoid both systems failing at the same time.

“The safety of the EPR is not called into question,” a spokeswoman at the world’s largest nuclear reactor maker told Reuters.

The world’s largest nuclear plant builder, with a market capitalisation of 12 billion euros, is currently building two EPR reactors in Finland and in France.

It has also started building two EPRs in China’s Guangdong province.

“The EPR design, as originally proposed by the licensees and the manufacturer, Areva, doesn’t comply with the independence principle, as there is a very high degree of complex interconnectivity between the control and safety systems,” the bodies said in a statement.

Areva, which reported sales of 13.2 billion euros in 2008, could not say how much the changes would cost as the company was still in talks with the safety bodies to determine the exact nature of the changes to make. (Reporting by Muriel Boselli, Benjamin Mallet and Nina Sovich; Editing by Keiron Henderson)