France's EDF may halt four nuclear reactors due to heatwave

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Electricite de France SA (EDF) is pictured at the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE), the trade fair event for the global nuclear community in Villepinte near Paris, France, June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French utility EDF on Wednesday said that forecasts of high temperatures in the Rhone River could lead to the shutdown from Aug. 3 of four nuclear reactors which depend on its waters for cooling.

EDF said it could be forced to halt electricity production at two reactors at St. Alban with an installed capacity of 2,300 megawatts (MW), and at the 900 MW Bugey 2 and 3 reactors.

France, like much of Europe, is experiencing scorching weather in its southern regions, and forecasts show temperatures hitting 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) in the Rhone valley area.

EDF’s nuclear plants along the Rhone use the river’s waters to regulate the temperature of their reactors, discharging warm water back into the waterway. Curbs are placed on the volume of water its plants can use as the river’s temperature rises.

The utility did not say if the four reactors at its Tricastin nuclear plant, further downriver, might also be affected. Three reactors at Tricastin are on planned maintenance outages.

Tricastin 1 is due to resume production on Aug. 4, Tricastin 3 on Aug. 5 and Tricastin 2 in early September, while the fourth reactor is currently online.

Nuclear reactors in the Nordic region have been forced to curb power output or shut down altogether due to the unusually warm summer in the region that has increased sea water temperatures.

Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Richard Lough