The EPR reactor is a pressurised water reactor (PWR) whose design, which has evolved with respect to that of the PWRs currently in operation in France, is intended to meet more stringent safety objectives.
Background and current situation:
View over the Flamanville 3 EPR construction site from the cliff © EDF Médiathèque - Alexis Morin- Antoine Soubigou/All rights reserved
Following issuing of the creation authorisation decree and the building permit, construction of the Flamanville 3 reactor began in September 2007. Initial pouring of concrete for the nuclear island buildings started in December 2007. Since then, the structural civil engineering work has continued and is now virtually completed. In 2014 and 2015 EDF completed the construction work of first the inner containment then the outer containment of the reactor building. Installation of components (piping, pumps, cables, electrical switchboards, instrumentation & control cabinets, etc.) is continuing in the various buildings. The first large components (reactor vessel, steam generators, etc.) of the main primary system were introduced into the reactor building in 2014 and welded to the main system pipes. The mechanical assembly operations are continuing in 2016 and EDF is preparing the first major phases of the start-up tests.
ASN received the Flamanville 3 commissioning authorisation application file on 19th March 2015. This file was transmitted by EDF in accordance with article 20 of Decree 2007-1557. It contains a safety analysis report, general operating rules, a waste management study, a decommissioning plan, an on-site emergency plan and an update of the impact study. Installation commissioning corresponds to the introduction of the first fuel assembly into the reactor vessel. It is subject to prior delivery by ASN of the installation commissioning authorisation. On the same day, EDF submitted the partial commissioning authorisation application file to ASN (step corresponding to the introduction of the nuclear fuel into the bounds of the Flamanville 3 BNI).
ASN considers that the two files submitted by EDF are admissible. ASN nevertheless considers the additional information is required before their technical examination can begin. ASN thus informed EDF of its conclusions and listed the complements, corrections and justifications required for the various documents by letter dated 12th June 2015 for the commissioning authorisation application file, and by letter dated 13th July 2015 for the partial commissioning authorisation application file. Pending reception of this additional information, the examination time provided for in the regulations has been suspended for these two files.
ASN oversight concerns different fields:
- oversight of the construction work and the manufacture and qualification of the EPR equipment,
- assessment of nuclear pressure equipment conformity, particularly with regard to design, and the manufacturing, assembly, installation and commissioning operations;
- oversight of the on-site start-up tests,
- technical examination of the design of the reactor and its equipment, and more specifically examination of the reactor commissioning application documents,
- assessment of the preparedness of the entity responsible for future operation of the reactor (the FLA3 NPP).
This oversight is exercised through examination of the technical documentation and performing inspections on the site, in the EDF central services and on the equipment manufacturers' premises.
At present ASN is continuing its oversight actions in order to determine its position concerning the reactor commissioning request.
More than two-thirds of the inspections carried out on the Flamanville 3 construction site concern technical subjects in line with the progress of the work and the ongoing activities (civil engineering, mechanical assembly, electrical systems, start-up tests). The other inspections concern cross-cutting themes (preparation for operation, organisation of occupational radiation protection, environmental protection etc.). These inspections can either be carried out with advance notice to the licensee or be unannounced.
ASN carried out 20 inspections of EDF on the construction site in 2015 (of which 3 were unannounced). These inspections concerned the following technical themes in particular:
- the civil engineering, and the prestressing of the inner containment in particular;
- the mechanical assembly activities, including the pipe welding activities which included welding of the reactor main primary system;
- the electrical systems installation activities;
- the organisational set-up for performing the reactor start-up tests;
- the non-destructive tests and worker radiation protection;
- the organisation and management of safety on the worksite and within the team that will operate the reactor in the future;
- protection of the environment.
ASN also exercises its oversight with regard to labour inspection. ASN conducts unannounced inspections concerning occupational health and safety and application of labour legislation. ASN works in close cooperation with the other State services.
ASN also ensures oversight of the engineering services responsible for carrying out and monitoring the detailed design studies and monitoring the qualification and manufacturing activities, and performs regular inspections in these services.
With regard to the manufacture of nuclear pressure equipment (NPE), ASN and the accredited organisations review the technical documentation concerning the design and manufacture of NPE and monitor NPE manufacturing, particularly in the plants of the manufacturer AREVA NP, as well as its suppliers and their subcontractors.