France’s Flamanville-3 project, plagued by schedule setbacks and cost overruns for well over a decade (construction of the unit commenced in December 2007), will be delayed a bit longer and cost a bit more.
Électricité de France announced yesterday that fuel loading at the 1,600-MWe EPR has been pushed back from the end of this year to the second quarter of 2023. The delay increases the project’s cost at completion from €12.4 billion (about $14.2 billion) to €12.7 billion (about $14.5 billion), more than four times the initial estimate of €3.3 billion, according to EDF.
This latest schedule adjustment, EDF said, was “taking into account the state of progress of the operation and the preparation for startup in an industrial context made more difficult by the pandemic.”
The utility added that “the new organization put in place at the beginning of 2020 to successfully bring the Flamanville-3 reactor into operation at the required levels of safety and quality” had improved efficiency, and that “the most complex operations to repair the penetration welds on the reactor building were successfully completed and deemed compliant by the Nuclear Safety Authority [Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, or ASN].”
The weld problem: In June 2019, following EDF’s discovery the previous year of faulty welding in Flamanville-3’s main secondary system, ASN determined that eight penetration welds in steam transfer pipes passing through the unit’s two-wall containment had to be repaired prior to startup. (EDF had initially hoped to repair the pipes after the reactor’s commissioning.)
ASN noted at the time that while the repair of the welds after the reactor’s commissioning was technically feasible, postponement “would pose a number of problems, notably with regard to demonstrating the safety of the reactor during the interim period. ASN therefore considers that repair of the welds concerned before commissioning of the reactor is the baseline solution.”