French reactor review finds anomalies, EDF ordered to widen inspections

(Reuters) - French nuclear regulator ASN said on Tuesday more than 600 “anomalies” had been found in a review of 12 EDF reactors and ordered the utility to add moulded components to ongoing inspections of parts made at the Creusot Forge.

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Reviews of 12 reactors received as of Sept 14 had revealed 601 anomalies which will have to be analyzed before those reactors will be allowed to restart after refueling or maintenance, the ASN said.

European forward electricity prices rallied on Tuesday after ASN’s decision, raising concern about a possible repeat of last winter when a separate probe and safety checks led to a prolonged nuclear outage and tight supply in winter.

Dominique Miniere, head of EDF’s French nuclear fleet, told reporters on Tuesday that the company was aware of the ASN’s new requirements and that these would not impact its 2017 power generation target.

“We are not modifying our production target for this year,” Miniere told journalists, adding that a 2018 target would be given in due time. However, another EDF executive said last week that a 2018 target would not be impacted by the reviews.

Miniere said that although the new requirements meant more paperwork for the teams carrying out the reviews, EDF was providing the necessary information and answering all further queries from the nuclear watchdog.

French regulators last year discovered manufacturing flaws and falsified documentation at the Creusot Forge and ordered it to halt production.

Miniere said that EDF and AREVA were working with the regulator to fix the lapses that were discovered at Creusot and the companies will propose that work should gradually resume at the foundry in the coming weeks.

He added that the halt in production at Creusot had not led to a shortage of components for its reactors.

On Tuesday ASN said EDF must inspect moulded components made at the foundry, adding to inspections of forged parts already underway.

Some 1,600 Creusot components are installed across EDF’s fleet of 58 nuclear reactors in France.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Bate Felix; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens