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France orders EDF to tackle nuclear project failings via Reuters

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EDF’s Flamanville 3 nuclear project in France is running more than a decade behind schedule and has racked up billions of euros in cost overruns, and the utility has encountered setbacks in building plants overseas too.

But the hitches point to bigger problems for France’s nuclear industry as a whole, according to a state-backed audit of Flamanville released on Monday, at a time when the government needs to decide in the coming years on its energy mix.

The report highlights planning deficiencies and a lack of direction at Flamanville in the early stages of the project, as well as poor coordination with suppliers, but also says France has lost industrial expertise in the sector.

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“The nuclear sector has to get back on track. It’s a question of energy sovereignty,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told a news conference to present the report, in a rebuke of EDF’s handling of its flagship projects.

Le Maire said delays at Flamanville – which will take 15 years to get up and running instead of six, and cost almost four times as much as initially planned – were “a failure for France’s entire electricity and nuclear sector.”

Skills shortages were so severe that most of the weldings in the Flamanville project had to be done by foreign sub-contractors, Le Maire added.

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