By Geert De Clercq
PARIS (Reuters) -French nuclear regulator ASN has offered to discuss the Luxembourg government`s concerns about the safety of a nuclear plant near the French-Luxembourg border at a meeting in June, the ASN said in a letter seen by Reuters, after corrosion problems have been found in some reactors elsewhere.
The letter, dated April 21, is in response to a Jan. 19 letter from the Luxembourg government, seen by Reuters, in which the Luxembourg energy and environment ministers express concern about the safety of the Cattenom nuclear plant, which is about 10 kilometres (6.21 miles) from the border and 25 kilometres from the Luxemborg capital.
In March, EDF halted one of the four reactors in Cattenom – reactor 3 – for safety inspections following the detection of corrosion problems on similar reactors elsewhere. ASN said reactors 1 and 2 had showed no problems during the last major inspection and said EDF was currently investigating Cattenom 4.
In their Jan. 19 letter, Luxembourg Energy Minister Claude Turmes and Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg asked the ASN to what extent technical problems at nuclear reactors close to the border can pose a security threat to the Duchy.
They asked whether the Cattenom reactors are affected by the corrosion problems discovered at other EDF reactors, whether investigations into Cattenom have started and whether any repair works are planned.
Luxembourg also asked the ASN whether it will keep the government informed about the investigation and repair works, and how long it will take to fully inspect the Cattenom reactors.
ASN director Olivier Gupta, responding to the Jan. 19 letter and a further Luxembourg letter on April 14, said he proposed to discuss the issues at the next Franco-Luxembourg nuclear safety commission on June 13.
In recent years, authorities in France’s neigbouring countries including Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, have repeatedly expressed concern about safety in French nuclear plants, many of which have been built close to the borders.
French front-curve power prices have been on an upward trend since Tuesday, after EDF published a document confirming corrosion problems on several reactors. The front-year 2023 baseload reaching a new contract high of 258.25 euros/MWh Friday.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, additional reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by Louise Heavens and Elaine Hardcastle)