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Flamanville nuclear reactor fault a fresh blow for Hinkley Point C - 21st April

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Another unwelcome development for the UK's nuclear power project at Hinkley Point C is currently under investigation as a result of a fault in its reactor pressure vessel. 

The British facility is also set to use the same European Pressurised Reactor and the same steel has been used for the safety casings for Hinkley Point, which “have already been manufactured.”

The fault is being described as a 'very serious' fault which was found in the pressure vessel of the prototype EPR plant in Normandy, France, according to the French regulator, ASN. A second investigation is now required into the quality of the steel of the pressure vessel or the 50ft-high safety casing at the French facility.

Areva and EDF have proposed to ASN that a new series of tests is conducted on a representative vessel head "in order to precisely identify the location of the zone (in which there was detected a high carbon concentration, leading to lower than expected mechanical toughness) concerned and its mechanical properties." The companies said that those new tests are already underway.

The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation said it was aware of the French Nuclear Safety Authority's concerns about the reactor and would continue to liaise with French authorities. "The UK currently have no EPR reactors but expects that learning from Flamanville 3 will be taken into account in the manufacture of components intended for the planned new reactor at Hinkley Point C," it said.

Further delays in construction and completion are expected following the safety issues. A final decision on Hinckley Point is expected in June, The EPR is meant to be one of the safest reactors in the world, and the most energy efficient, but has suffered a number of delays and cost overruns.

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