Montel Magazine 3 - 2020 - Page 24

build a series of EPRs . The rivalry led to a “ bidding war ” and a vast underestimate of costs , along with an “ unrealistic ” timetable , to build new units in France and Finland , says the report .
Construction at Flamanville went ahead when only 10-40 % of the necessary assessments had been completed , says the report . EDF estimated it could build the reactor in 54 months when the average lead time to complete reactors at the time elsewhere in the world was 121 months . It said it needed 5m hours of engineering when “ in fact it would take 22m ”.
EDF knew it had to “ convince public authorities and public opinion ” that EPRs could be built and commissioned by 2020 to replace the firm ’ s ageing , existing fleet of reactors when they reached 40 years old . But in reality , it was woefully disorganised , say the auditors . Its oversight at Flamanville as self-styled “ architect builder ” led to “ confusion ” and until 2015 there was no specific entity “ responsible for ensuring that the objectives of the technical and financial framework of the project were respected ”. It was only in 2012 , four years after construction started , that EDF began to “ track expenditure ” and not until 2015 that it “ estimated completion costs ”. The firm ’ s board rarely discussed the build even when it was alerted to problems , the report says .
Further up the ladder , there is more evidence of a tendency to look away or not to look at all . State representatives sitting on EDF ’ s board – the company is owed 84.7 % by the state – failed to carry out their own analysis of the impact of “ successive problems ” or to alert ministers of the consequences . “ The shareholder appears as a spectator of events which it only seems to know of via the press ”, the auditors write . Among other things , the lack of oversight meant the government cleared a EUR 7.5bn bailout of Areva and EDF “ without having been alerted of the situation in time ”.
The report is also critical of EDF ’ s handling of two of the most notable setbacks to have hit Flamanville ’ s construction . The risks following the discovery of excessive carbon in the lid of the reactor vessel , equipment that is vital for safety , were “ poorly assessed and consequences poorly qualified ”. And the auditors reiterate that EDF was only allowed to keep the vessel in place due to a government decree in July 2015 which created exemptions “ for the application of compliance rules to nuclear pressure equipment ”. The firm will have to replace the lid in 2024 .
Secondly , it is currently grappling with sub-standard welding , which has already added EUR 1.5bn to the cost of the reactor . Yet , according to the report , EDF knew about this issue in 2013 but did not inform France ’ s ASN
Montel Magazine 2 – 2020