Explosion Rocks Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant in France

An explosion at EDF Energy’s Flamanville nuclear power station in France has been controlled, the utility said.

The blast, which rocked Unit 1 at the nuclear plant on France’s northern coast at around 9:45 a.m. local time on February 9, stemmed from a fire originating from a fan located under the generator, EDF Energy said in a statement. The engine room is in the non-nuclear part of the facility, it added.

The fire was extinguished by emergency crews at the plant and no casualties were reported. Power production at Unit 2 continues, EDF said.

The nuclear plant houses two pressurized water reactor units. Units 1 and 2 are each 1,330 MW and began commercial operations in 1986 and 1987. The world’s first EPR is under construction nearby at Flamanville 3.

In late 2016, nearly a third of France’s 58-reactor nuclear fleet was offline as a result of a scandal centering on concerns about the carbon content of critical steel parts, steam heat exchangers, and other components manufactured at the Creusot Forge. The faulty components were initially discovered at the 1.65-GW Flamanville 3 EPR project.

Much of the required analysis has since been completed, and the French nuclear regulator Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire on January 16 approved the restart of nine of 12 units affected by the carbon concentration anomaly. However, questions remain, and a final determination on long-term effects has not been released, as POWER reported in mid-January.

In January, meanwhile, France’s grid operator Réseau de Transport d’Électricité warned the public that they will need to start taking measures to conserve energy as temperatures plummet or face rolling blackouts. If the voluntary demand reductions aren’t enough, RTE may start to implement “exceptional measures” that include shutting off factories and dimming lights across the country, it said.

 

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)