FRANCE France's nuclear safety authority, the ASN, has given the go ahead to Electricité de France (EdF) to operate all 34 of its 900MWe units for a further 10 years.
The ASN said that all 34 units have been cleared for further operation following the successful conclusion of their second once-per-decade inspections. It added that preparations were now well underway for the start of 10-yearly reviews at EdF's second generation units, the 1300MWe series. It said the permanent group would hold a series of meetings to define the scope and nature of safety re-evaluations that would take place during the reviews, due to start in 2005.
The decision represents an important boost for EdF at a time when it has underlined the strategic importance of maximising reactor lifetimes in the face of market liberalisation and partial privatisation.
French reactors have no pre-specified operating lifetime limits, but are required to be in constant conformity with their safety analysis reports. The 10-yearly reviews last about four months and are described by the ASN as being unique in the extent of their scope. In addition to routine refuelling and maintenance work, they involve three major operations: a detailed robotic inspection of the reactor pressure vessel, leakage tests for the reactor containment building, and leakage tests for the primary cooling circuit.
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