Nuclear Nuisance Nuclear Shambles

Tricastin : Va Va Boom

July 3, 2011 There’s been a small inconsequential fire, I mean, explosion accompanied by great palls of black smoke gushing into the sky, at a famously accident-prone French nuclear power station…

Flashback to 2008 :-
“11 July 2008 : France’s Tricastin Nuclear Facility Experiences Uranium Leak : If you are one of the many people who believe that accidents at nuclear facilities are a thing of the past, think again. A friend passed along some information that France’s Tricastin nuclear facility has been temporarily closed after approximately 30 cubic meters (75 kilograms) of liquid containing unenriched uranium spilled from an overflowing reservoir. The liquid seeped into the ground and also reached the Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers. The Tricastin facility, which is operated by Areva/Socatri, is located at Bollene in the south of France, 40 km from the tourist city Avignon. Tricastin has both nuclear reactors and a radioactive waste treatment plant. The leak occurred Monday night, but people in the affected areas were not told about the problem until 10:00 AM Tuesday…”

Flashback to December :-
“French reactor cleared for 40 years of operation : 08 December 2010 : Unit 1 of the four-unit Tricastin nuclear power plant in southern France has been given approval by the French nuclear regulator to operate for a further ten years. The reactor is the first in the country to have completed its third ten-year safety review. In France the authorization to operate a nuclear reactor does not specify a time limit. Instead, the law requires that the operator of a reactor performs a review of the level of safety at the unit every ten years. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (Autorité De Sûreté Nucléaire, ASN) said that Electricité de France (EdF) has successfully completed a third ten-year safety review for Tricastin 1. The review comprised two phases: a review of the unit’s compliance with safety requirements and a reassessment of security measures at the plant. ASN said that it was satisfied that EdF has the ability to safely operate the reactor for a further ten years. Tricastin 1 – a 900 MWe pressurised water reactor which began operating in December 1980 – is the first to have undergone its third decennial outage. The ASN conducted its third ten-year inspection of the unit between May and August 2009…”

Flashback to Thursday/Friday this week :-
“EDF Ordered to Improve Flooding, Earthquake Defenses at Reactor : Thursday, June 30, 2011 : July 1 (Bloomberg) — Electricite de France SA, the biggest operator of nuclear reactors, was ordered to bolster defenses against floods, earthquakes and fires as a condition for extending the lifespan of a plant in the south of the country. EDF must reinforce the earthquake buffers at the Tricastin reactor as well as improve anti-flooding measures, according to a report released yesterday by the national atomic watchdog. Nobody from EDF could be reached for comment today. The utility won permission in November to operate Unit 1 at Tricastin for another decade, and is also seeking to extend the lifespan of the Fessenheim reactor. The review was carried out before the Fukushima meltdown in March. The regulator is now carrying out new inspections at French reactors, fuel processing and waste storage sites. EDF was also told to improve safety at Tricastin’s spent- fuel pool among a list of 32 measures ordered by the watchdog. Tricastin was first commissioned in 1980 and Fessenheim in 1978. The findings of the watchdog coincide with a parliamentary report yesterday that called on France’s nuclear industry to boost spending on safety as some plants may not meet requirements for coping with earthquakes and flooding. The report questioned whether the Tricastin and Gravelines sites, operated by EDF and Areva SA, are strong enough to withstand these types of natural disasters…”

And within the last 24 hours :-
“Explosion at French nuclear power plant : Jul 3, 2011 02:06 Moscow Time : An explosion and subsequent fire damaged a transformer of the first power unit at France’s Tricastin nuclear power plant. No injured or dead have been reported. The fire was put out in a matter of 20 minutes. No damage to the environment has been recorded. Power unit 1 of the Tricastin plant was not in operation at the time of the explosion…
“2 juillet 2011 : Incendie spectaculaire mais sans conséquences à la centrale du Tricastin…”

“2 Jul 2011 by BFMTV : Un incendie a touché ce samedi après-midi le transformateur d’une unité à l’arrêt de la centrale nucléaire du Tricastin, dans la Drôme. De gros panaches de fumée noire se sont échappés mais selon EDF, il n’y aura conséquences sur l’environnement.

And all this, just as “Atomic Anne” bids Areva goodbye…

“24/06/2011 : Le 16 juin dernier, l’Elysée a annoncé qu’Anne Lauvergeon ne serait pas reconduite à la présidence du directoire d’Areva, dont le site du Tricastin, à Pierrelatte (26), est l’une des principales plateformes. A compter du 1er juillet, elle sera remplacé par Luc Oursel. Hier, celle qui a fondé Areva en 2001 et fait de son bébé le leader mondial du nucléaire, est venue sur Tricastin faire ses adieux à ses anciens collaborateurs. Une visite prévue bien avant que son départ ne soit officialisé et qu’elle n’a pas souhaité annuler. Cette rencontre est restée “interne”, devant plusieurs centaines d’employés, et Mme Lauvergeon a tenu un discours suscitant un “émotion intense”. Elle a notamment dressé le bilan des dix dernières années du site du Tricastin, évoquant le défi du chantier de l’usine Georges-Besse 2.”

Vive le vent – est nos volts solaires !

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