EDF teams have begun loading fuel assemblies into the EPR reactor vessel of unit 3 at France’s Flamanville NPP, just a day after the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) authorised commissioning of the unit. The loading of 241 fuel assemblies will last several days. EDF will then proceed with the start-up, control and testing operations, over several months, in close co-operation with and under the control of ASN. Grid connection is planned for the summer. ASN confirmed that it will continue to monitor Flamanville-3. This monitoring will look primarily at whether the safety circuits are operating correctly during the staged increase in operational power to 25% and then 80% of the unit’s total capacity.

Construction of the 1,650 MWe Flamanville 3 reactor began in December 2007, with an initial target of commercial operation in 2013. However, the project has faced significant delays and cost overruns, with the latest estimate by EDF putting the total cost at €13.2bn ($14.2bn). The Flamanville EPR is the first of its kind in France, following the commissioning of EPR reactors in China (Taishan 1&2) and Finland (Olkiluoto 3), all of which were also significantly delayed.