Complete dismantling of experimental French reactor to proceed

10 October 2023

EDF has been authorised to begin the third and final phase of the decommissioning of the Brennilis nuclear power plant in the Monts d'Arée in Brittany, France. The plant is a unique 75 MWe gas-cooled heavy water reactor that operated between 1972 and 1981.

The Brennilis plant (Image: EDF)

The first phase of the plant's decommissioning - the removal of all fuel and the dewatering of its systems - was completed in 1992. The second phase - the dismantling of equipment and all buildings (with the exception of the reactor building) - was completed in 2005.

On 26 September, EDF obtained the "complete dismantling" decree, signed by the Minister of Energy Transition, which makes it possible to launch the dismantling of the reactor, the cleaning up of the civil engineering, the demolition of the reactor building and the final rehabilitation of the Brennilis site.

This authorisation is based on a file describing precisely the operations that will be carried out and the way in which EDF will conduct these operations. Before being submitted to the ministry, this file was the subject of a public inquiry among the 15,000 inhabitants of the neighbouring municipalities, at the end of which the prefect and the commission of inquiry issued a favourable and unreserved opinion in March 2022.

"The final deconstruction of Brennilis is a complex operation," noted Cédric Lewandowski, director of the nuclear and thermal fleet at EDF, on LinkedIn. "Indeed, this prototype, unique in France, using heavy water reactor technology, is contained in a concrete cube measuring 20 metres on each side and 1.5 metres thick. Inside, the equipment to be dismantled is tightly packed into a very cramped space.

"To carry out this work on time and to guarantee the protection of personnel, the EDF Deconstruction and Waste Projects Department (DP2D) is working with its industrial partners on innovative tele-operation and robotics solutions."

The dismantling of the reactor's peripheral circuits, entrusted by DP2D to Onet Technologies and Cyclife Engineering, will begin later this year.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News