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France’s nuclear power giant beset by setbacks via France24

France, which has one of the most advanced nuclear energy systems in the world, is struggling to remain a major player in the nuclear field as its state-owned company Areva leaks cash and faces safety concerns.

France’s nuclear security authority ASN (Autorité de surete nucléaire) last week declared that a multi-billion dollar Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) being built by Areva in Flamanville, Normandy has “a serious anomaly”.

The anomaly comes at a difficult time for the French company as it faces a host of setbacks related to the construction of nuclear power plants around the world.

After ASN demanded tests on the new reactor to determine the cause of the fault, Areva reported ‘a defect in the steel composition in some areas of the lid and the bottom of the tank of the EPR reactor’.

More tests will be required of Areva in coming months in order to guarantee the safety of the Flamanville reactor and if it cannot be repaired, a complete replacement may be necessary.

In France, the state-owned Electricité de France (EDF) has commissioned Areva to design EPRs to increase the supply of electricity to consumers.

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Yannick Rousselet, a nuclear specialist at Greenpeace in France, says that replacing the tank in Flamanville is more difficult than one might think.

“The tank is the only element that you cannot move easily,” Rousselet told FRANCE 24.

“Historically, tanks were not designed with the idea of dismantling them. In addition, the one at Flamanville is already welded in place, and fixed to the pipe of the reactor.”

Because EDF is state-owned, tax payers will ultimately pay the bill for the expensive project, says Rousselet.

“It’s the French who will pay for the mistakes. Officials collectively took us to a dead end.”

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