A handling operation on such an exceptional scale required one of the most powerful cranes in the world. At 200 metres high (twice the height of the Statue of Liberty), “Big Benny” has the power to lift the dome of the Flamanville EPR reactor building, which weighs in at 260 metric tons and has a diameter of 43 metres. The 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% of civil engineering work completed, along with 46% 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.
Hervé Machenaud, Group Senior Executive Vice-President - Generation & Engineering, said: “Everybody involved in this demanding construction site is proud of what has been achieved to date. It marks an important milestone for the future.”
As architect engineer, EDF is overseeing the construction of the nuclear power plant, the first to be built in France for some 15 years. The EPR is scheduled to start producing electricity in 2016 and will have a capacity of 1,650 MW, enough to supply power to 1.5 million people.
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% 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.