Luxembourg expressed concern on Friday about the French nuclear power plant in Cattenom (Moselle), located not far from its border, after a corrosion problem recently identified on a reactor of the same family.
Energy Minister Claude Turmes and his environmental counterpart Carole Dieschbourg this week sent a letter to the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) asking for clarification on the situation in the nuclear power plant.
A corrosion problem discovered in Penly
"Are the reactors of the Cattenom power plant affected by this anomaly", already detected or suspected on 5 French reactors, they ask in particular in this letter.
“We are asking the ASN why you closed Penly and why you did not close Cattenom, when Cattenom is from exactly the same family or generation”, explained to AFP Claude Turmes, Minister of Energy of the Luxembourg, on the sidelines of a meeting in Amiens with his European counterparts.
A corrosion problem on a safety system, originally identified on the most powerful and recent reactors in the French fleet, was also detected on a reactor (Penly 1) of a less powerful family.
The problem was discovered while the reactor was shut down for a technical visit.
Other reactors of the same type potentially affected
The Penly reactor belongs to a family (or bearing) of 1,300 MW reactors of the same generation, which has twelve in total, including the 4 reactors of the Cattenom power plant.
All four are currently active.
ASN President Bernard Doroszczuk on Wednesday described the corrosion problem as "serious", in particular because "it has a potentially generic character", that is to say that it could affect an entire family of reactors.
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EDF has undertaken until the end of the month a documentary re-examination of the checks carried out in the past on the whole of the French nuclear fleet.
Depending on the results of this review, it may be necessary to carry out physical checks on reactors if suspicions of corrosion appear, then repairs depending on the results of the inspection.
This could require reactor shutdowns.
Luxembourg, worried that the plant will "wipe the Grand Duchy off the map", has been asking for Cattenom to be shut down for many years.
Already in 2016, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, did not beat around the bush: “Our greatest wish would be for Cattenom to close.
(…) It's a site that scares us, there's no point in hiding it”.