The challenge - risk control
Even if you haven’t seen it in the press, the Flamanville EPR project in Normandy is making progress! Despite delays on some parts of the job, EDF’s third generation nuclear power plant should be commissioned in 2019. As a partner to Siemens on the largest nuclear power project of the first quarter of the 21st century in France, GROUPE ECIA’s Cherbourg branch is supporting the German industrial on the “technical control of utilities to meet safety requirements”. In other words, it is ensuring fire protection for Flamanville nuclear facility, among others through a series of connected devices. “In practice, we are checking that the fire protection system and on-board technology meet the operator’s expectations”, explains Marc Colard, GROUPE ECIA’s Director of Operational Excellence.
As partner to Siemens, GROUPE ECIA takes part in protecting nuclear power facilities against fire risk. Some premises have already been equipped; those nearest to the reactor will be equipped when the works have progressed.
Altogether, the engineers will be installing some 6,500 fire detection checkpoints across the EPR site. To allow the EDF staff to gain their new quarters quickly, the administrative buildings were dealt with first, equipping them with the solutions recommended by the SME from the Gard based near Marcoule and Tricastin. In Normandy, some of the installations are already protected or undergoing testing, but those in more critical zones, nearer to the reactors, have to wait for the works to progress a little further before being equipped.
In Flamanville, GROUPE ECIA was not involved in the choice of technology to be used, but as a partner supporting Siemens.“Three young engineers have been appointed to this job for two years”.Merc Colard goes on to say that “This is because of our concern for technological watch and training for our youngest staff. They are developing their skills thanks to Siemens. Our teams are composed of experienced technical specialists, often people who have worked for sub-contractors, capable of giving a critical opinion, working with junior engineers from various schools so that their approaches can be crossed.” The same learning approach guided by the will to use lessons learnt from experience is deployed in other sectors too with the same rationale for ventilation control, another branch that GROUPE ECIA is developing, both for nuclear power plants and for complex industrial facilities listed as dangerous under the Seveso directive and other environmental regulations.
The EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) is a 1,600 MW pressurized water reactor. (At Tricastin, the capacity rating of each reactor is 900 MW). The result of ten years of French-German cooperation, it was developed “to make it even safer, more competitive and more environmentally friendly”,according to EDF. In early February, Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s CEO, confirmed in the press that “Our target for 2018 is to be able to load the nuclear fuel in the reactor tank by December”. Admitting that it was a tight schedule, “We’re used to that”,, he said. According to the schedule, the fuel will be loaded by the end of the year and the first KWh produced at the Flamanville EPR will be sold in early 2019.