Areva's Flamanville nuclear reactor supply chain 'needs oversight'

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

28 October 2008 - Areva has been told to monitor its subcontractors more closely after it was discovered that one had supplied a pressure system part without properly following testing procedures.

World Nuclear News reported that the parts in question are to be used to form the pressurizer of the water-cooled reactor under construction at Flamanville. The pressurizer is a main component of the reactor's primary coolant loop and as such has important safety role in addition to its function in the operation of the reactor.

The parts were made by the Italian company Società delle Fucine under a contract from Areva, which was ultimately responsible for quality. However, a routine check carried out by France's Nuclear Safety Authority (Autorité De Sûreté Nucléaire, ASN) revealed a 'gap' in compliance with regulations.

The equipment Società delle Fucine had used to test the quality of the pressurizer parts was 'not in accordance with standards for testing,' said the ASN, adding that the matter 'shows a lack of quality of the subcontractor.'

The non-compliance should have been spotted by Areva, which is now required to implement a quality control system capable of ensuring 'appropriate and effective supervision over the entire chain of subcontracting.'

The ASN did not say it had found any problems with the components, but has asked Areva to prove the parts are indeed up to standard within two months.

Areva is building one of its 1650 MWe EPR nuclear power units at Flamanville for the French national nuclear generator Electricité de France. The unit is the second of its type, after Olkiluoto 3, which has also suffered certain supply-chain and quality problems contributing to construction setbacks of over two years.

Areva maintains that such problems are to be expected as global nuclear component manufacturing rebuilds the capabilities lost during recent decades of little nuclear build.

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