France’s nuclear regulator said Thursday that a third nuclear power plant was hit by a safety issue caused by corroded welds, raising concerns over the country’s power capacity during the height of winter.
The problem was first identified last month on two reactors at the Civaux plant in central France during maintenance.
Energy company EDF has also shut down reactors at its Chooz plant in the eastern Ardennes, which are built to the same design and may also be affected.
“The defects identified in the latest generation reactors were found in another reactor” in Penly in northern France, said Karine Herviou, deputy director of the French nuclear safety regulatory agency IRSN.
The problem is related to welding on pipes that are part of an emergency cooling system, according to IRSN.
“We don’t know if there are any problems elsewhere. EDF is checking all its data” from previous maintenance checks, Herviou added.
Ten nuclear reactors from the 56-person French fleet are currently out of service for various reasons, accounting for about 20 percent of the country’s nuclear power capacity.
Many French factories are nearing the end of their expected 40-year life, but EDF is struggling to commission new reactors.
The group announced additional delays and cost overruns on Wednesday for the troubled new-generation nuclear power plant at Flamanville in northern France.
The estimated cost has increased by an additional 300 million euros ($340 million) to 12.7 billion euros – about four times more than the initial forecast of 3.3 billion euros.
The Flamanville plant would not be loaded with fuel until the “second quarter of 2023”, meaning it won’t be operational until the end of next year at the earliest.
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