Areva has found weaker steel in a key part of the reactor vessel of a nuclear plant that it is building in Normandy, France.

The Flamanville European Pressurised Reactor’s (EPR) is being built for EDF. Its completion is delayed by over three years to 2017 as Areva suffered a series of incidents.

The costs involved in the construction of the EPR have increased from the initial estimate of €3.3bn to €8bn.

When completed, the 1,650MW EPR reactor will contain atomic fuel and prevent radioactivity escaping, according to the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN).

"The costs involved in the construction of the EPR have increased from the initial estimate of €3.3bn to €8bn."

During chemical and mechanical tests in a vessel similar to the one installed in Normandy, manufacturing anomalies were found.

Upon completion of the initial tests, Areva found that one of the criteria was not met in an area with greater than average carbon content.

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By GlobalData

EDF and Areva are working to perform additional tests on the EPR as soon as possible, following approval by the ASN on the test conditions, and to provide the safety authority with all the necessary information to demonstrate the safety and quality of the corresponding equipment.

According to ASN, Chinese and Finnish regulators have been warned after the discovery of weaker steel as Areva is developing an EPR in Finland and EDF is working with Chinese companies to develop two at Taishan in China.

Image: Computer designed picture of the planned European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR). Photo: courtesy of Framatome ANP / Wikipedia.