The Flamanville 3 EPR has been granted regulatory approval to receive nuclear fuel on site (Credit: ASN)France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has authorised the arrival of nuclear fuel at the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor site. The fuel will be stored in the pool of the building provided for this purpose.

ASN carried out an inspection on the Flamanville site in August to assess the licensee's preparation for the operations of receiving, handling and storing new fuel. The checks carried out during this inspection showed that the condition of the installation and the operator's level of readiness were satisfactory.

ASN said the reception and storage of new fuel present risks of dispersal of radioactive substances in the event of an assembly falling during handling. “ASN considers that the measures taken by EDF to prevent this accident scenario and limit its consequences are satisfactory,” a statement said

ASN also authorised the use of radioactive gases to perform efficiency tests on certain filtration devices.

The ASN draft decision was submitted for public consultation and the application file presented by EDF was made available to the public in September.

This authorisation is one of the stages prior to the commissioning of the Flamanville EPR reactor. Loading of fuel into the reactor vessel remains subject to further ASN authorisation and public consultation.

The 1600MWe Flamanville 3 reactor, which started construction in December 2007, was originally expected to cost €3bn and to be ready in four years. However, the lastest estimate from October 2019 puts the cost of the Flamanville EPR project at €12.4bn. ASN said in July that around 100 welds in the reactor circuits need to be repaired before the reactor could be commissioned.

Photo: The Flamanville 3 EPR has received approval for arrival of fuel on site (Credit: ASN)