French Nuclear Boss Defends EDF Technology After Report of Flaw
(Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA expressed confidence in its atomic technology after a non-profit group said the company’s flagship reactor design may be flawed.
“French nuclear technology is a very fine technology,” Bernard Fontana, chief executive officer of EDF’s Framatome unit, said on BFM Business television. His comments followed a suggestion by France’s CRIIRAD -- a group that studies radioactivity -- that “abnormal vibrations” of fuel assemblies in a Chinese plant made by Framatome resulted from poor reactor-vessel design.
“We have specialists on site who are working with our back-office teams,” Fontana said Tuesday. “They will hand out their conclusion based on these facts in due course. I have confidence.”
The reactor in Taishan was halted in July following a gas leak from fuel rods. That may have been caused largely by vibrating fuel assemblies, according to CRIIRAD, or the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity, which said it got details from a whistleblower in the industry.
A design flaw in EDF’s European Pressurized Reactor would be a blow for the French utility, which is currently building one EPR in France and two in the U.K., and is seeking to persuade the British government to build two more. A similar plant is also due to be commissioned next year in Finland.
The allegations also come shortly after President Emmanuel Macron said France should build new reactors alongside renewables to cope with an expected increase in electricity demand and replace aging plants.
EDF owns a minority stake in the venture running the Taishan site’s two reactors, which use Framatome technology. In a letter to the French nuclear safety authority on Nov. 27, CRIIRAD suggested that the fuel-rod vibrations may have been caused by a defect at the bottom of the reactor vessel.
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