Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Revelations from an EDF insider : EPR reactor prone to major nuclear accident risk!

The French Network for Nuclear
Phase-out (Réseau "Sortir du nucléaire") reveals confidential documents
disclosed by an anonymous insider from EDF (Electricité de France, the
main French power utility). These documents show that the design of
the EPR presents a serious risk of a major nuclear accident - a risk
deliberately taken by EDF to increase its profitability. Because it is
potentially vulnerable to a situation which could have uncontrollable
consequences, the EPR reactor is extremely dangerous.

the confidential documents (in French) from

du nucléaire" has set up a group of experts to analyse these recently
received documents thoroughly. Here are the first lessons we can learn
from them, which are of the utmost importance.

Some operating
modes could cause the EPR reactor to explode because of a control rod
cluster ejection accident (these control rod clusters moderate the
nuclear reaction). These operating modes are mainly related to an
objective of economic efficiency, requiring the power of the reactor to
adapt to electricity demand. Thus, in order to find a hypothetical
economic justification for the EPR, its designers chose to take the very
real risk of a major nuclear accident. Moreover, most of the arguments
given in favour of the EPR (power, efficiency, waste reduction and
safety) have been proved to be false.

EDF and Areva (the
leader of the French nuclear industry) have tried to find a
solution to the problems related to the operating mode of the reactor:
these efforts have failed preventing those kinds of accidents. The
French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has apparently been kept in the
dark about these issues.

So the EPR reactor design seems to
increase the risk of a Chernobyl-type accident, which would lead to the
destruction of the confinement and mass dispersion of radionuclides in
the atmosphere.

On March 8th and 9th, Paris hosts an
international meeting to encourage 65 countries to acquire nuclear
technology. This meeting will be opened by the French President Nicolas
Sarkozy and chaired by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Director General Yukiya Amano. It is outrageous that France keeps on
promoting nuclear power in general and the EPR reactor in particular, as
the danger of this reactor has now been demonstrated. The construction
of the EPR in Finland, France and China must be stopped
immediately, and the planned project in Penly (France) cancelled. The
best way to prevent nuclear accidents is indeed to phase out nuclear
power and go for renewable energies.

The accident
scenario in detail:

According to calculations by EDF and
Areva, the reactor’s RIP (Instant Return to Power) control mode and the
control rod cluster configuration can induce a rod ejection accident
during low-power operation, and lead to the rupture of the control rod
drive casing (i). This rupture would cause the coolant to leak outside
the nuclear reactor vessel. Such a loss of coolant accident (LOCA - a
very serious type of nuclear accident) would damage a large number of
fuel rods by heating fuel pellets and claddings (ii), and thus cause the
release of highly radioactive steam into the containment. So there is a
great risk of a criticality accident resulting in an explosion (iii),
the reactor power being increased in an extremely
brutal way. Following the ejection of control rod clusters during
low-power operation, the reactor emergency shutdown may fail (iv).
Whatever the configuration of the control rod clusters, a rod ejection
accident induces a high rate of broken fuel rods and therefore a high
risk of a criticality accident (v).

For more details, see the
documents disclosed by an anonymous EDF source (especially document No.
1) on our website:


Marc Saint-Aroman, +33 (0) 5 61 35 11 06
Mijeon, +33 (0) 6 75 36 20 20
Nuclear physicists: Monique and
Raymond Sené, +33 (0) 1 60 10 03 49
English-speaking Media: Steven
Mitchell, + 33 (0) 9 52 49 50 22
German-speaking Media: Jean-Yvon
Landrac, + 33 (0) 6 87 30 41 10

Documents to download:
- Summary - “Une
technologie explosive : l'EPR” (anonymous and undated)
2 - “Bilan de
la phase préliminaire de l'étude d'EDG FA3 et perspectives”(EDF SEPTEN
May 2009)
3 - “EPR – Gestion combustible – Lot 1 – Revue de
conception du schéma de grappes FA3 du 25/10/2007”
4 –“EPR FA3 –
Synthèse de l'étude de faisabilité de l'accident d'éjection de grappe”
(EDF SEPTEN September 2007)
5 - “EPR FA3- Synthèse des voies de
sortie de la problématique éjection de grappe” (EDF SEPTEN July 2007)
– Working paper: “Présentation synthétique de l'EPR” (EDF SEPTEN April
7 - “Note de présentation de la deuxième revue de projet
radioprotection EPR” (EDF, Spring 2004)
8 - “Marges disponibles pour
les activités d'exploitation du REP par rapport aux risques de
criticité” (EDF SEPTEN April 2009)