EDF finds signs of corrosion at Cattenom
Electricité de France SA has found corrosion on key piping on four nuclear reactors during recent checks, including Cattenom just across the Luxembourg border, taking the number of affected units at its French fleet of atomic generators to nine.
Corrosion issues have forced the French energy giant to halt some of its 56 reactors for lengthy checks and repairs, just as Europe faces its worst energy crisis in half a century. The state-controlled utility previously said its nuclear output will fall to the lowest in more than three decades this year and hardly rebound next year due to the reactor works.
Signs of corrosion were found in pipings of the Chinon-3, Cattenom-3 and Flamanville-2 reactors, three of the six units that EDF had decided to check in February, EDF said in a statement posted on its website last week. Indications of corrosion have also been found at the Golfech-1 unit during a planned maintenance halt, and deeper checks will be carried out, the utility said.
Last week, Luxembourg's Energy minister Claude Turmes and Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg submitted a joint letter to Olivier Gupta, the chief of France's nuclear safety authority, the ASN, to "demand all the details and results of the analysis carried out by EDF as soon as possible", the ministers said on Thursday. It follows on from similar letters lodged earlier this year.
The reactor was shut down at the end of March as part of checks for possible corrosion. The closure was originally due to last five weeks, EDF confirmed in February, but this has since been extended for a further three to four months.
Luxembourg was primarily seeking clarification on the reasons behind issues at the power plant, which has been the site of several minor incidents over the past decade, specifically whether a "material defect or a design defect" is to blame and "what the resulting consequences are for the other reactors on the Cattenom site", the ministers said.
Plunging nuclear production, combined with government measures to cap power prices to protect consumers and companies, will deprive EDF of 26.2 billion euros in earnings this year as the utility needs to buy back power on the wholesale market, the company estimated last month.
News of the issues first emerged in December and January, when EDF said two reactors in Civaux, two in Chooz, and one in Penly needed to be halted for checks and repairs.
The company is continuing talks with the nuclear safety authority on ways to tackle the problem, while it carries out further checks on its fleet of reactors during planned maintenance and refuelling halts through 2024.
(Additional reporting by Andréa Oldereide)
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.