EDF says to spread out restart of checked French nuclear reactors across Dec

London (Platts)--6 Dec 2016 1129 am EST/1629 GMT

* EDF to communicate schedule to RTE soon
* Dampierre-3, Gravelines-2 and -4, Tricastin-1, -2, and -3 fully tested
* Generic decision for two 1.45-GW units expected in December too

EDF will spread out through to the end of the year the restart of the reactors that have been fully checked and soon expected to obtain final clearance from French nuclear safety authority ASN, an EDF spokesman said Tuesday.

"We are now looking at each individual reactor. We will not be restarting all [fully tested] reactors at the same time. There are issues such as stability of the electrical grid or the amount of nuclear fuel in each unit which means we will spread out the restarts up to the end of the year," the spokesman said.

EDF is expected to announce a new schedule of reactor availabilities to grid operator RTE "in the next few days," he said.

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About seven of the 12 reactors with high-carbon components have undergone the full safety checks, ASN President Pierre-Franck Chevet said in an interview Monday. These include six 900-MW units and one 1.45-GW unit.

ASN said in a statement Monday that 10 of the 900-MW units in which high-carbon levels were discovered on the lower part of steam generators could be cleared for restart pending the submission by EDF of some additional information on each of the units. However, not all these units have been fully tested.

The safety justifications provided by EDF are "generic," and not reactor-specific, ASN said in the statement. "Each [900-MW] reactor restart remains subject to ASN approval on the basis of a specific safety file," ASN added.

ASN also said in the statement that EDF had indicated to them it would soon send additional information required to make a similar generic decision on the 1.45-GW units at Civaux-1 and -2, in which high-carbon was also found on similar components. These units have specific features compared with the 900-MW units, ASN said.

For the fully tested reactors, the restart process should be "fairly simple" for EDF and "very quick [for ASN] to verify" after the additional information is received, Chevet said.

The EDF spokesman also said the additional information would be provided "fairly quickly," for the 900-MW units.

These units are the 900-MW units at Dampierre-3, Gravelines -2 and -4, Tricastin -1, -2, and -3. The 1.45-GW unit at Civaux-2 has also been fully tested but a generic decision by ASN on the 1.45-GW units remains outstanding pending more information from EDF due to the specific nature of that design.

The spokesman said EDF did have to provide more elements for the two 1.45-GW units but that this should be done "fairly quickly," as well, adding that the utility estimated a restart for Civaux-2 by the end of the year.

The remaining reactor out of the 12 with high-carbon components, the 900-MW Saint-Laurent-Des-Eaux -B1 has already had partial tests, which were "favorable," Chevet said and therefore did not require another shutdown for additional tests. That reactor is operating.

Finally, according to an ASN presentation on Monday at its headquarters in Paris, there are now four operating reactors that need to shut to measure the actual carbon content on the parts concerned and confirm the hypotheses of the generic files that were approved by ASN.

These are the 900-MW units at Fessenheim-1, Tricastin-2, Gravelines-4 and the remaining 1.45-GW unit at Civaux-1.

According to Chevet, EDF has asked for more time to perform the carbon tests on these four remaining reactors, to allow the utility to "spread them out" over a longer time horizon.

At present, these four reactors are scheduled to be shut in mid-December with EDF expected to test them fully by mid-January, which was a deadline set by ASN in October.

A source at EDF said Tuesday, however, that the EDF request was made last week.

"Yes, we are in discussion with ASN on those four reactors," he said.

EDF wanted more flexibility than the mid-January deadline but the likelihood of seven reactor restarts in a month means the request to push back the tests on the four remaining reactors is less of a priority, he said.

--Benjamin Leveau,
--Edited by Jonathan Dart,

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