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EDF finds faults at two French nuclear power stations

17 December 2021

French energy giant EDF has announced it is extending the closure of its Civaux nuclear power plant in the western region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine after detecting cracks on the pipes of a reactor. EDF has also closed its Chooz plant in eastern France which uses the same technology as Civaux.

EDF's Civaux nuclear power plant - Image: Wikimedia/User:E48616
EDF's Civaux nuclear power plant - Image: Wikimedia/User:E48616

Shares in EDF have dropped dramatically as a result of the news. The outages represent around 13% of current availability in France and come at a time of record energy prices and the oncoming peak winter season.

EDF said that during preventive maintenance checks on the primary circuit of reactor number 1 of the Civaux nuclear power plant, scheduled as part of its ten-yearly in-service inspection, some defaults were detected close to the welds on the pipes of the safety injection system (SIS) circuit. The French nuclear safety authority, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) was informed of the cracks which were likely caused by corrosion. Checks initiated on the same equipment of reactor number 2 at Civaux revealed similar defects, EDF added.

In a statement on December 15, EDF said a decision has been taken to replace the affected parts on the two Civaux reactors with ASN monitoring the work.

Four reactors at EDF’s Chooz power plant in France’s Grand Est region will also be shutdown as they use the same technology and form the N4 reactor series of the French nuclear fleet. EDF said the decision had been made as a precautionary measure so that, proceeding proactively, it can carry out the same checks on the SIS circuit which can only be possible when the reactors are offline. The Chooz number 2 reactor would be shut down on December 16 and the Chooz number 1 reactor would be shut down on December 18, EDF said. The shutdown extension of the Civaux plant’s reactors and the Chooz plant’s reactors will result in a loss of about 1 TWh by the end of 2021.

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