Nuclear: EDF wants to “industrialize” work related to corrosion


PARIS (Reuters) – EDF wants to industrialize and standardize work related to the corrosion problems detected in certain nuclear power plants in order to reduce the duration of shutdowns of the reactors concerned, said Régis Clément, deputy director of the “nuclear production” direction of the public electrician.

Penalized by these corrosion problems and by conventional maintenance operations on its nuclear fleet, EDF is engaged in a race against time to bring a maximum number of reactors back into service and produce enough electricity this winter in the context of the European energy crisis. .

The group, however, had to lower its forecast for nuclear production in France for 2022 on Thursday due to the impact of strikes on the maintenance of its power plants and the extension of the shutdown period of four reactors for repairs related to corrosion. .

EDF intends to learn from the checks and repairs already carried out in certain power plants, in particular by replacing complete sections of piping whenever necessary and not by proceeding weld by weld as it has done in certain cases.

In 2023, it also wants to integrate into its routine maintenance plan a new ultrasonic control technology so that it does not have to cut the pipes.

“We are in a phase where it is industrialization and standardization which is the key before us to control the impact [des corrosions] and gradually bring the file into the so-called ‘routine’ maintenance activities that we will carry out on our scheduled shutdowns”, declared Régis Clément during a press conference.

“Sites must be copied as much as possible, that is to say that the industrial teams engaged in a repair must have a plan that is reproduced from reactor to reactor. This makes it possible to be more efficient and to gradually reduce the duration of construction sites”, he added.

“We really got out of a situation of hot treatment or crisis, where we suffered in the first half – depending on the progress of the expertise – the events (…). There, we have a strategy.”

EDF has confirmed that 16 of its 56 reactors are “sensitive or highly sensitive” to the so-called “stress corrosion” phenomenon – 10 of which are being treated and will all be repaired by the start of 2023 -, while 40 units are there. “little or not sensitive”.

The group plans to inspect six additional reactors in 2023, with the rest of the fleet to be inspected in 2024 and 2025 during scheduled outages for conventional maintenance.

He said that 500 people were currently mobilized to carry out the repairs, with the additional reinforcement of a hundred North American welders and pipefitters.

While only 30 reactors in the French fleet are connected to the network on Tuesday, EDF is targeting 42 units available in December and 46 in January to meet the expectations of the government and the manager of the high voltage lines RTE in terms of production.

(Report Benjamin Mallet; edited by Sophie Louet)


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