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Uk Nuclear Strategy Faces Meltdown As Faults Are Found In Identical French Project

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-nuclear-strategy-faces-meltdown-as-faults-are-found-in-identical-french-project-10186163.html

A “very serious” fault has been discovered in a French nuclear power station which is at the heart of David Cameron’s strategy to “keep the lights on” in Britain in the next decade.

The future of two nuclear reactors planned for Hinkley Point in Somerset has been thrown into doubt by the discovery of a potentially catastrophic mistake in the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Normandy.

“It is a serious fault, even a very serious fault, because it involves a crucial part of the nuclear reactor,” said Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of France’s nuclear safety inspectorate.

A second investigation has been ordered into the quality of the steel used to make a 50ft-high safety casing, or “pressure vessel”, which encloses the groundbreaking new reactor at Flamanville, near Cherbourg. If the steel proves to be defective, the completion of the prototype EPR plant – already behind schedule and nearly three times over budget – could be delayed for several years.

Excellent news for the UK, something else that perhaps won't work and may cost billions to rectify.

So we will have 2 aircraft carriers with no planes and now perhaps a nuclear reactor that doesn't work.

Still thank god we've got UK coal to keep the lights on.

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"quality of the steel"

Well where was that made?

All the casings were forged by Areva at Le Creusot in central France as long ago as 2007-08.

Edited by SarahBell

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-nuclear-strategy-faces-meltdown-as-faults-are-found-in-identical-french-project-10186163.html

Excellent news for the UK, something else that perhaps won't work and may cost billions to rectify.

So we will have 2 aircraft carriers with no planes and now perhaps a nuclear reactor that doesn't work.

Still thank god we've got UK coal to keep the lights on.

We have no miners. Will have to import them.

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We havent built anything yet. The French did and discovered a problem. Better them than us....no?

Depends on how long it takes to rectify, it could take a decade or more to fix depending on how serious the flaw is.

So it's good they found it, however from the point of the UK and it's energy policy it's utterly fecked!

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If PV solar panel and battery prices keep falling as fast as they have been, and the technology carries on improving as it has recently, there will soon be no need for a grid connection for most normal size homes. Fine for most of Europe, but not so good for shoe box Britain.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/04/16/experts-powering-your-home-with-batteries-is-going-to-get-cheaper-and-cheaper/

http://gas2.org/2015/04/18/battery-prices-falling-faster-expected/

Edited by vin rouge

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Still thank god we've got UK coal to keep the lights on.

Coal creates CO2 and must be banned to save the trees.

Thank God you've got all those windmills.

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It's interesting how little opposition there's been to Hinkley C by the NIMBY crowd (should that say UKIP? :-p ) compared to say the huge opposition to the Atlantic Array wind farm a few miles away.

That opposition was part of the reason it was shelved. At least with wind turbines they can be taken down which won't be long if we work out how to build a viable fusion reactor.

Compare that to disposal of nuclear waste and the threat (albeit small) of nuclear meltdown.

It also seems odd to build a nuclear power plant on the coast post fukishima. The last big tsunami that hit that coast was about 500 years ago so not a particularly rare event.

Edited by moedo12

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Coal creates CO2 and must be banned to save the trees.

Thank God you've got all those windmills.

I saw a video on youtube today where a US Congressman thought that all the wind turbines would stop the wind blowing. Another was worried that stationing additional US troops on Guam would cause Guam to tip into the ocean. I kid you not.

Edited by The Masked Tulip

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I saw a video on youtube today where a US Congressman thought that all the wind turbines would stop the wind blowing. Another was worried that stationing additional US troops on Guam would cause Guam to tip into the ocean. I kid you not.

Actually, I often wonder what the longer term effects of taking large amounts of energy out of the weather system is going to be.

I know that local ground temperatures around turbines can be elevated. But as more and more wind farms proliferate, what will the cumulative effect be on weather patterns as a whole?

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-nuclear-strategy-faces-meltdown-as-faults-are-found-in-identical-french-project-10186163.html

Excellent news for the UK, something else that perhaps won't work and may cost billions to rectify.

Yes but the people who procured it will still have their skiing trips, Aga range and country house - so all is not lost.

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"quality of the steel"

Well where was that made?

All the casings were forged by Areva at Le Creusot in central France as long ago as 2007-08.

The specific problem is that the steel has failed to meet the "impact resistance tests".

It's standard practice in the nuclear industry to perform impact tests on reactor components to check the strength of the steel. Essentially, a calibrated heavy pendulum with a spike on it is lifted and dropped, allowing it to hit the component which is then inspected for dents. The process is repeated with higher and higher lifts until the metal dents, giving a measure of the impact resistance. At the same time, it would be normal practice to cut or core drill out several sample pieces of the steel from the part for chemical analysis

The problem with this test is that it is destructive. As a result, the usual requirement is to build a sacrifical prototype, and perform testing to prove to the regulator that the design and manufacturing process is of adequate quality.

Rather bizarrely, Areva decided not to do the destructive testing on their 2006 production run of components for the Flamanville plant's reactor. Instead, in 2012, after the Flamanville reactor had been already installed, the regulator pressured them into providing test results as objective proof of adequate manufacturing quality. They tested a reactor which had been intended for another plant; the problem is that this part failed the tests.

Unless they can convince the regulator that the test results are adequate (which seems pretty unlikely, as apparently this is not just a minor fail: the recommended minimum impact resistance test value is 60 Joules, but some of the components tested only scored 32 J, with the average score being about 50 J) they will need to disassemble most of the incredibly complex plumbing in the reactor building, cut open the containment building, remove the reactor, build or procure a new one, before finally reassembling the plant. This is an unprecedented repair - in general, the reactor pressure vessel is considered both irreparable and irreplaceable. The numerous safety systems on nuclear plants are not just for public safety, but for protection of the RPV, damage to which would effectively require the entire plant to be written off.

In terms of Hinkley Point C, it's not catastrophic to the project - for the prototype plant in Finland, Areva had the reactor made by Japan Forge Works, and this has been shown to be unaffected by this problem. The HPC project is not in need of the reactors for probably 4-5 years, so there is time to resolve the manufacturing problems, or subcontract the manufacture to a contractor who has previously delivered an acceptable quality component.

This, of course, assumes that Areva's finances are able to tolerate this failure. They are already pretty weak, after a litany of catastrophic failures of project management at both Olkiluoto and Flamanville.

Of course, there are other issues about the choice of the Areva EPR for Hinkley point C. The plant is ludicrously complicated - they've taken two already complex designs and inter-mixed them. They've massively beefed up the safety systems, and added several extra layers of complexity, and then someone's gone and selected the safety systems in the CAD package and spammed the copy-and-paste function a few times. Then, in order to try to control the incredible costs of all this complexity, the whole plant has to be scaled up to an almost unmanageable 1600 MW. There are people in the industry who have called the design "unbuildable". At the same time, the design fails to address the fundamental problem that Fukushima had -reactor cooling is dependent on electrical power. Lose this (because your generators are flooded, or your switchboards are underwater, and your UPS batteries run down) and meltdown is inevitable unless you have portable reactor cooling pumps which can be trailered in and connected up in time.

Compare this to the AP1000 design which Toshiba has stated it has a tentative interest in constructing near Sellafield. The plant is considerably simplified to previous designs, the reduced length of piping and reduced number of welds reduces the risk of a major pipe break; complex valve systems are replaced with fluidic control systems, such as vortex diodes which have no moving parts, so are incredibly reliable. The safety systems are tried and tested, and are backed up with a completely new 72 hour "passive" reactor cooling system which is gravity powered. Once the gravity cooling system is activated, it requires no control, no power and no supervision for a minimum of 72 hours, allowing a reasonable time period for additional support to reach the site in the event of an emergency.

Edited by ChumpusRex

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So, when the blackouts start in the UK due to the delay in building new generating capacity, we won't even be able to draw on back-up power from France, as they will have their own generating problems.

Someone start building thorium reactors for God's sake.

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We havent built anything yet. The French did and discovered a problem. Better them than us....no?

We're not actually building anything, the Frenchies are, we're just fitting them with Frenchies help.

It's interesting how little opposition there's been to Hinkley C by the NIMBY crowd (should that say UKIP? :-p ) compared to say the huge opposition to the Atlantic Array wind farm a few miles away.

I used to live in the area and the main opposition to the plant was when they planned on more pylons through the somerset levels and on up to Portishead. I think it was astute of the government to suggest they were going to decimate the local countryside with pylons all over the show, to get the nimby's to concentrate on that and not the fact Fukishima mk. 2. was being rebuilt on their doorsteps.

In France, I seem to recall reading that if you could see a Nuclear Power station you were entitled to free electricity. Got to love the French.

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We're not actually building anything, the Frenchies are, we're just fitting them with Frenchies help.

Indeed. Also, we were incapable of building the second severn bridge - the Frogs had to do it.

The paradox is that we are the ones with the so called 'flexible labour market', 'strong work ethic' and 'hard working families' yet we have lost the ability to build basic infrastructure. Whereas the Frogs, with their short working week, extended summer holidays, higher income, 'nothing is allowed on a Sunday' economy can do all this.

Perhaps it is because they didn't sign up to the American corporate model.

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Coal creates CO2 and must be banned to save the trees.

Thank God you've got all those windmills.

Wind Power = 9.4% of the UK's electricity in 2014 ;-)

I recall a few years back when several HPC experts were certain that figure would not rise above 2.5%

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Indeed. Also, we were incapable of building the second severn bridge - the Frogs had to do it.

The paradox is that we are the ones with the so called 'flexible labour market', 'strong work ethic' and 'hard working families' yet we have lost the ability to build basic infrastructure. Whereas the Frogs, with their short working week, extended summer holidays, higher income, 'nothing is allowed on a Sunday' economy can do all this.

Perhaps it is because they didn't sign up to the American corporate model.

Then over the years the UK media has often portrayed the French as relatively poor which is misleading as in 2014 (IMF figures) their GDP per Capita was better than the UK's.

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We call ourselves a nuclear state and are hell-bent on building new nuclear missiles.

Yet we can't even build a civilian nuclear reactor without going cap in hand to the French and the Chinese.

What on earth have our leaders been doing, the last thirty years?!

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The specific problem is that the steel has failed to meet the "impact resistance tests".

It's standard practice in the nuclear industry to perform impact tests on reactor components to check the strength of the steel. Essentially, a calibrated heavy pendulum with a spike on it is lifted and dropped, allowing it to hit the component which is then inspected for dents. The process is repeated with higher and higher lifts until the metal dents, giving a measure of the impact resistance. At the same time, it would be normal practice to cut or core drill out several sample pieces of the steel from the part for chemical analysis

The problem with this test is that it is destructive. As a result, the usual requirement is to build a sacrifical prototype, and perform testing to prove to the regulator that the design and manufacturing process is of adequate quality.

Rather bizarrely, Areva decided not to do the destructive testing on their 2006 production run of components for the Flamanville plant's reactor. Instead, in 2012, after the Flamanville reactor had been already installed, the regulator pressured them into providing test results as objective proof of adequate manufacturing quality. They tested a reactor which had been intended for another plant; the problem is that this part failed the tests.

Unless they can convince the regulator that the test results are adequate (which seems pretty unlikely, as apparently this is not just a minor fail: the recommended minimum impact resistance test value is 60 Joules, but some of the components tested only scored 32 J, with the average score being about 50 J) they will need to disassemble most of the incredibly complex plumbing in the reactor building, cut open the containment building, remove the reactor, build or procure a new one, before finally reassembling the plant. This is an unprecedented repair - in general, the reactor pressure vessel is considered both irreparable and irreplaceable. The numerous safety systems on nuclear plants are not just for public safety, but for protection of the RPV, damage to which would effectively require the entire plant to be written off.

In terms of Hinkley Point C, it's not catastrophic to the project - for the prototype plant in Finland, Areva had the reactor made by Japan Forge Works, and this has been shown to be unaffected by this problem. The HPC project is not in need of the reactors for probably 4-5 years, so there is time to resolve the manufacturing problems, or subcontract the manufacture to a contractor who has previously delivered an acceptable quality component.

This, of course, assumes that Areva's finances are able to tolerate this failure. They are already pretty weak, after a litany of catastrophic failures of project management at both Olkiluoto and Flamanville.

Of course, there are other issues about the choice of the Areva EPR for Hinkley point C. The plant is ludicrously complicated - they've taken two already complex designs and inter-mixed them. They've massively beefed up the safety systems, and added several extra layers of complexity, and then someone's gone and selected the safety systems in the CAD package and spammed the copy-and-paste function a few times. Then, in order to try to control the incredible costs of all this complexity, the whole plant has to be scaled up to an almost unmanageable 1600 MW. There are people in the industry who have called the design "unbuildable". At the same time, the design fails to address the fundamental problem that Fukushima had -reactor cooling is dependent on electrical power. Lose this (because your generators are flooded, or your switchboards are underwater, and your UPS batteries run down) and meltdown is inevitable unless you have portable reactor cooling pumps which can be trailered in and connected up in time.

Compare this to the AP1000 design which Toshiba has stated it has a tentative interest in constructing near Sellafield. The plant is considerably simplified to previous designs, the reduced length of piping and reduced number of welds reduces the risk of a major pipe break; complex valve systems are replaced with fluidic control systems, such as vortex diodes which have no moving parts, so are incredibly reliable. The safety systems are tried and tested, and are backed up with a completely new 72 hour "passive" reactor cooling system which is gravity powered. Once the gravity cooling system is activated, it requires no control, no power and no supervision for a minimum of 72 hours, allowing a reasonable time period for additional support to reach the site in the event of an emergency.

Funny, I have not seen fluidics mentioned since the 60s when they were suggested for environments too harsh for electronics.

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