Crack in nuclear power plant: France shuts down another reactor

New hard blow to France’s nuclear power plants: A major crack has been discovered in a reactor at the Penly power plant in the north of the country, endangering the safety system. The issue was raised by the state-owned company Edf, which manages the transalp nuclear power plants.

The crack rises to over 155 mm, which is about a quarter of the pipe length, and reaches a depth of 23 mm, which is slightly less than the thickness of the pipeline, which is 27 mm. As reported by Asn, this crack had no impact on personnel or the surrounding environment, but weakened the resistance of the pipeline, compromising the reactor cooling system. Hence the decision to classify the risk at level 2, one step below that defined as “serious accident”, and shut down the reactor.

The Penly reactor isn’t the only reactor showing cracks: EDF has also detected high levels of corrosion at Cattenom, Civaux, and Chooz, forcing the agency to cease operations. This news is part of a context in which the critical condition of French factories has been ongoing for more than a year. The problems start far away: EDF has to deal with an old reactor park and severe budget deficits that hinder its investments. In the midst of the energy crisis that hit Europe, the problems came to a head: not only old power plants but also newly built ones are starting to show signs of corrosion. As a result, EDF had to operate through 2022, with half of its 56 reactors shut down for routine and extraordinary maintenance. France, which normally relies on nuclear power for 70% of its energy mix, recorded the lowest electricity production in 30 years last year and had to import electricity from its European neighbors (while historically the country was a net exporter).

EDF went into debt because of these problems monster 64 billion. Things don’t seem to be improving: production in January was still significantly lower than in 2021, when the nuclear crisis had already begun. According to French grid operator Rte, “targeted” power outages could occur throughout the year.

Source: Today IT