Tricastin 1 cleared for ten more years

14 August 2023

Unit 1 of the Tricastin nuclear power plant in southern France can operate for a further ten years, the country's nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), has decided. It becomes the first French power reactor licensed to operate beyond 40 years.

The Tricastin plant comprises four 900 MWe PWRs (Image: EDF/Toma/M Hake)

In February 2021, ASN set the conditions for the continued operation of EDF's 900 MWe reactors beyond 40 years. The regulator said it considered the measures planned by EDF combined with those prescribed by ASN will ensure the safety of the units for a further 10 years of operation.

EDF operates three pressurised water reactor designs, known as the 900 MWe, the 1300 MWe and the 1450 MWe N4. Its 32 operating 900 MWe reactors came into commercial operation between 1977 and 1988, and include the oldest of the country's current nuclear fleet. Such reactors are in operation at EDF's Blayais, Bugey, Chinon, Cruas-Meysse, Dampierre, Gravelines, Saint-Laurent and Tricastin nuclear power plants.

ASN said the improvements and measures will be applied to each reactor individually during their fourth periodic safety reviews, scheduled to run until 2031. These reviews will take the particularities of each facility into account, it said. The measures planned by EDF for each reactor will be subject to a public inquiry.

On 29 June this year, ASN adopted a decision setting the requirements governing the continued operation of Tricastin 1.

For the periodic safety review of Tricastin 1, EDF took into account the specificities of this reactor and its site as well as the results of the inspections carried out, in particular during the ten-yearly outage of the reactor in 2019.

ASN said the safety improvements planned by EDF as part of this review were the subject of a public inquiry from 13 January to 14 February 2022, which concluded with a favourable opinion from the inquiry committee.

"ASN considers that the conclusions of the reactor's fourth periodic safety review, the actions planned by EDF and those taken in response to ASN's decision on the generic phase of the safety review make it possible to achieve the objectives set for this periodic safety review," the regulator said in a 10 August statement. "In its decision, ASN regulates the continued operation of reactor 1 of the Tricastin nuclear power plant by additional requirements relating to the level of seismic hazard and the heat wave situations that the licensee includes in the safety demonstration."

Tricastin 1 was connected to the grid on 31 May 1980 and entered commercial operation on 1 December that year.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News