June 27, 2017

Flamanville 3 reactor vessel: ESPN standing group issues opinion

The standing group of experts on nuclear pressure equipment (ESPN) met at the start of the week to rule on the toughness of the upper and lower domes of the Flamanville 3 reactor vessel. In the next few days, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN - Autorité de sûreté nucléaire) will announce its draft decision, which will undergo public consultation over the summer. The final decision will then be issued in the fall.

AREVA NP, in partnership with EDF, has prepared and deployed a large-scale additional test program. Before implementation, the program was validated by the ASN in September 2015, and a supplement to this test program was presented and validated by the ASN in June 2016. AREVA NP completed the program and submitted its report to the ASN in mid-December 2016.

Tests were performed on vessel heads and bottom heads similar to those on the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor. Three sacrificial domes were used and more than 1700 samples were taken. The program has mobilized a wide range of skills and involved many AREVA NP experts over two years. An external and independent body was appointed by the ASN for the oversight of these tests, in addition to the customer EDF. The resulting file also takes into consideration additional tests performed on the two Flamanville 3 domes (non-destructive testing via ultrasonic or magnetic particle testing), together with calculations.

AREVA NP has been able to use all these elements gathered over a period of more than two years to conclude that the reactor vessel demonstrates sufficient toughness.

The Flamanville 3 EPR reactor is a generation III+ 1650 MWe reactor benefiting from major technological advances and optimal safety, endurance and performance.