EPR Reactor Design Plagued By Design And Technical Failures

The EPR reactor design created by Areva and Seimens and hailed as the next generation “safe” nuclear reactor is failing to meet expectations. The first EPR to be built at Flamanville has been plagued with failure after failure. The concrete construction was recently discovered to be full of holes, debris and major flaws. The substandard construction as described to the public “adversely affect the final quality of structures”: “concrete piers drilled like Swiss cheese or many hailed ‘nests of stones “,” errors of reinforcement “or” lack of funds for cleaning formwork, cluttered with a mas of ligatures and other unidentified objects. “

Major defects and 13 other weaknesses were found by France’s nuclear safety authority, including not being up to seismic standards. French, British and Finnish regulators also requested design changes to deal with reactor control issues. Flaws in the airplane strike resistance of the reactor building and seismic resistance ability were also called into question. The ability of the reactor to access sufficient cooling water during droughts was also brought up. Electrical and mechanical design failures were found in the ongoing construction process of a similar reactor in Finland.

The EPR project at Flamanville has almost doubled in cost for a total of 6 billion euros. The plant in Finland has also doubled in cost. There is another EPR being constructed in China that is being told to also be far over budget. The EPR and the Westinghouse AP1000 next generation reactors are frequently trotted out as the solution to the current nuclear reactor safety issues. As work progresses on the EPR is it becoming clear that the EPR won’t meet that objective.

Many thanks to Oliver for bringing us the story from France and the articles documenting the EPR.

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