20 Greenpeace activists blocked the entrance to 3 quarries in Normandy that supply concrete and gravel for the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) site at Flamanville yesterday. We took this action to stop the re-opening of the construction site, which had been ordered by the French Nuclear Safety Agency (ASN). This was despite none of the safety problems the ASN discovered over a month ago having been adequately resolved by EdF, who are carrying out the project.
In May, the ASN stopped all construction at Flamanville because of chronic safety problems with all the concrete on site. ASN inspectors highlighted a range of problems including non-conformities in the pinning of the steel framework of the concrete base slab, incorrectly positioned reinforcements, and inadequacy of technical inspections by both the construction company Areva and EdF. You can read translations of the ASN's letters to EdF and Areva here, here and here.
Amazingly though, it seems like EdF will be allowed to carry on in the same slipshod way as before. Nothing much seems to have changed on the reactor site, which means we still don't know the following:
- Whether the defective concrete will be destroyed and replaced
- Whether the welding company making the liners been officially chastised and if their defective welds been replaced
- If all companies working on site now have proper certification to be carrying out this project (I would have guessed this was the first question EdF thought to ask...)
- If a proper project management system has been set up to ensure nothing like this happens ever again
Because of this we don't think the ASN should have even considered re-opening the Flamanville site. So at around 5am yesterday our activists arrived in front of the 3 quarries and using chains, lockers and barrels blocked the entrances, hung up banners saying "EPR: le grand Bluff" and generally shut things down. We plan on being there for as long as we possibly can. Watch this space. For more on the EPR read our factsheet (pdf) and for regular updates from the cheval's mouth read the Greenpeace France webpage.
In places like France and Finland the EPR has already been dogged by massive construction delays and huge cost overruns. You have to ask yourself, wouldn't companies be better off spending all this money on renewables and CHP?
Elsewhere in the atomic world, five nuclear warning sirens failed to sound during a test in the suburbs of New York. But don't worry, they're only meant to sound when the Indian Point reactors go into meltdown.