The alert goes off on the state of nuclear power plants across the Alps. The French energy company, Edf, has identified 320 welds believed to be at risk of failure in the atomic energy production plants, and intends to start checks which should reach 90% of the plants by the end of the year. The French National Authority for Nuclear Safety (Asn) was alerted on the subject after the recent discovery of a serious crack in the Penly 1 reactor, in the department of Seine-Maritime (Normandy), which forced the authorities to shut down the plant.
Nuclear alarm in France: communication
“The Asn takes note of this new development of the strategy and believes that it is EDF’s responsibility to implement it,” said the Nuclear Surveillance Authority following the manager’s communication.
In the past, the Asn had asked the French energy giant to “review its strategy” to solve the problems that nuclear power plants in France are experiencing as early as 2021. As reported by The printsince last April at least 29 of the 56 reactors across the Alps are undergoing maintenance and have been shut down to allow the examinations necessary to extend their life beyond the 40 years envisaged to be carried out. However, many are experiencing corrosion problems, raising the issue of safety.
In the Pelny plant, which triggered the alert on 8 March, a crack of more than 155 millimeters was allegedly detected, with a depth of 23 millimeters, slightly less than the thickness of the pipeline concerned, equal to 27 millimetres.
As reported by the Asn, this crack had no consequences for the personnel or the surrounding environment, but it weakened the resistance of the pipeline, compromising the reactor cooling system. For this reason, the Authority has decided to shut down the reactor, classifying the signal at risk level 2, one step below what is defined as a “serious accident”.
In the light of the Asn’s recommendation, EDF announced more in-depth analyzes of a large part of its nuclear park, but the deputy director of the Nuclear Generation Division of the energy giant reassured that the dossier “does not require any modification of the reactor shutdown schedule, either for 2023 and for 2024”.
The operator has not revised its estimate of nuclear energy production for this year, which remains between 300 and 330 terawatt hours, and right now in Paris the bill to the relaunch of atomic energy in the country (here we talked about the nuclear revolution in Italy).
A provision at the center of controversy around the nuclear safety reform desired by the government, which provides for the construction of six new EPR reactors promised by Emmanuel Macron by 2035 (here the Enel project on fourth generation nuclear energy).
Nuclear alarm in France: the plan in Italy
In Italy, there is an instrument which provides for procedures to limit the consequences in the event of accidents at nuclear power plants outside the national territory. This is the “National plan for the management of radiological and nuclear emergencies”, developed by the Civil Protection department which identifies and regulates the measures to deal with the consequences of accidents or incidents in reactors across borders, according to three different scenarios:
- plants within 200 kilometers of the national border;
- plants over 200 kilometers from the national border;
- plants in non-European countries.
There are three operational phases in close correspondence to the internationally codified messaging by the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency:
- Attention, following the notification of an alert or a facility emergency
- Pre-alarm, following the notification of an emergency site area
- Alarm, following the notification of a general emergency
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