EDF puts reactor dome in place at Flamanville nuclear plant

EDF completed the installation of the dome on the reactor building of the Flamanville EPR. A handling operation on such a scale required one of the most powerful cranes in the world.

At 200 meters high (twice the height of the Statue of Liberty), the “Big Benny” crane has the power to lift the dome of the Flamanville EPR nuclear reactor building, which weighs in at 260 metric tons and has a diameter of 43 meters.

Unit 3 of the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant is the first nuclear reactor to be built in France for some 15 years. It will have a nameplate capacity of 1,650 MW and is scheduled to come into service by 2016.

Work at the Flamanville EPR site, which commenced in December 2007, has involved the full spectrum of stakeholders in the French nuclear industry, with peak personnel levels on site rising to 3,200 people in 2012 (including 60 percent regional workers, 2,600 employees of external contractors, and 600 EDF employees), representing a total of five million hours worked. This major industrial construction site has been subject to regular inspections by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) throughout the project.

The reactor housing structure will be guaranteed leaktight by welding around the entire circumference of the dome, which will then be clad with 7,000 metric tons of concrete to boost its strength.

The dome has been fitted by Bouygues Construction, the company in charge of the civil engineering works for the Flamanville EPR. The operation has required a 4 months preparation and involved 30 employees from Bouygues Construction.

The Flamanville EPR construction site is entering its final phase, with 95 percent of civil engineering work completed, along with 46 percent of electrical and mechanical installation work. Now that the dome has been installed, the heavy components of the nuclear steam supply system (steam generators, reactor vessel, pressurizer, etc.) will be installed inside the reactor building over the next few months.

The first half of this year has already seen the first electrical tests and the installation of steam piping inside the turbine building, as well as the installation of the first instrumentation and control (I&C) cabinets that will eventually be used for controlling, monitoring, protecting and operating the EPR.

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