Areva has won a contract for "several tens of millions of euros" with Electricite de France (EDF) to dismantle the vessel internals of the 1200MWe Superphénix sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor in Creys-Malville, which was permanently shut down in December 1998. Areva said the contract includes equipment dismantling and waste packaging, particularly highly radioactive waste.

The work will be undertaken by Areva’s Dismantling and Services business and is expected to take until 2024. This will be the first time vessel internals have been dismantled at an FBR of over 1000MWe in France. Only remotely operated tools can be used, and one of the technologies developed for the project by Areva Dismantling and Services is a laser cutting arm and a trajectory monitoring system that hugs the forms of the structure, facilitating the tele-operators’ work, the company said.

Superphénix began commercial operation in December 1986. The construction provoked public protest, much of it violent, including a rocket attack in 1982. The plant faced a number of difficulties, and during its 11 years of operation it was closed for 25 months to fix technical problems and 66 months due to political and administrative issues.

The plant was connected to the grid in December 1994 and produced 4300GWh of electricity before its final closure in September 1998. Removal of the 650 fuel rods was completed in 2003.

Photo: Superphénix (Copyright: Didier Robcis)