Flamanville: a "nuclear accident"?

Post date: Feb 17, 2017 9:19:46 AM

The mass media reaction to the recent incident at Flamanville 1/2 (which appears to have involved an oil tank on one of the turbine systems) was relatively restrained, with most coverage at least quoting expert opinion that, while serious, it was not a "nuclear accident". However, the references to "the machine room of the reactor", as well as other similar phrases, suggested that the turbine building (for this is where the incident took place - the French term is "salle des machines", hence the poor translation) is somehow part of the reactor, or inside the same building.

In fact, the turbine building and reactor building are adjacent but separate, connected by the main steam pipes which carry steam from the steam generators (inside the reactor building) to the turbine (inside the turbine building, as the name suggests).

So, to be clear, the incident at Flamanville 1/2 (i.e. the original two-unit plant, and not the new EPR unit currently under construction next door) did not involve any reactor system or equipment - it took place inside the "conventional" (non-nuclear) part of the plant, where the main risks and hazards are of precisely the type that arose during this incident: conventional industrial safety risks that arise on any industrial site where machinery conveying hazardous fluids is in operation, and people have to work on and in the vicinity of such machinery.

So: not good, but not nuclear! Hope that clears things up a little.