France's EDF to reduce Flamanville nuclear plant staffing over virus

FILE PHOTO: The logo of EDF (Electricite de France) is seen on the French state-controlled utility EDF's headquarters in Paris, France, February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - EDF will reduce staff to around 100 from 800 at its Flamanville nuclear power plant in northern France due to coronavirus infections in the Cotentin region, a spokesman for the French utility said on Monday.

Only people in charge of safety and security will remain on-site.

The decision was made because of a cluster of COVID-19 infections in region, the spokesman said adding that some staff displayed signs of the virus.

“But today, it is no longer possible to carry out tests. There are too many cases,” he said. “As a preventive measure and because it is no longer possible to carry out tests to confirm cases, we have decided to only keep those in charge of safety and security,” the spokesman said.

While the two reactors have been offline for maintenance since January and September, respectively, major maintenance work was under way.

EDF also said construction work on a long-delayed third reactor on the site would be reduced.

The French government is preparing an order that would put its inhabitants under partial lockdown to combat the coronavirus epidemic, sources aware of the planning said on Sunday, a move that would tighten further restrictions on public life.

Reporting by Bate Felix; writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens