(Montel) EDF may have to delay the start-up of the European pressurised reactor (EPR) it is building in Flamanville north France by two more years to 2022, according to sources close to the matter.
The experts decided to recommend that EDF repair eight defective welds in the reactor's containment, rather than leave them unrepaired as the utility had proposed. Repairing the welds could push back the planned start-up of the reactor early next year to 2022, the sources said.
Contacted by Montel EDF was not immediately available to comment.
The weld faults were "a major obstacle to the exclusion of any rupture" of the main steam evacuation pipes of the reactor, ASN said in a statement.
ASN’s technical arm, IRSN, confirmed it had asked EDF to repair the welds, “rather than seek to justify acceptability as it stands…given the importance of the identified discrepancies…"
Last January, ASN chief Bernard Doroszczuk warned that the commissioning of the reactor could face a delay of “more than six months” if the group of experts refused EDF’s justifications on the safety of the welds.
ASN had said previously it would announce its decision on the welds in May following the consultation with its permanent group of experts on nuclear pressure equipment.
On Thursday, the watchdog said it would take the decision "in the near future."
Last July, EDF delayed the launch of the EPR by yet another year due to the defective welds. It also raised the total estimated cost of construction by EUR 400m to EUR 10.9bn.
On Wednesday, the operator of the EPR under construction in Finland said its start-up also faced new delays.
Updates story published at 12:17 CET with comments from ASN and IRSN.