Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2015
French nuclear giant Areva billed its European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) design as one of the safest yet, with plans to build a “worldwide fleet” of EPRs—starting in Olkiluoto, Finland in 2005. The Olkiluoto project is currently nine years behind schedule and three times its original $3.3 billion budget. In May, Finnish utility TVO lost patience with Areva and canceled plans for a second reactor.
Areva abandoned the last of four unrealized US EPR plans in February, citing a more profitable market in China. But now China’s two EPR projects are on hold, as Areva has to check their steel components for flaws. Recently, work was halted at Areva’s half-built Flamanville EPR project in France, because unacceptably high levels of carbon were found in the steel used to make its pressure vessel. Parts for the China reactors were made in the same French forge as the compromised Flamanville steel.
England is currently the only country moving forward with EPR plans, but those seem unlikely to continue until at least one of the four Areva EPRs now under construction can be shown to work. The company has not sold a new reactor since 2007, and it has not shown a profit since 2010. Areva lost $5.38 billion in 2014, and 85 percent of the company is now owned by the French government.
—Climate News Network, May 28; New York Times, May 9, 2015