The Blayais nuclear power plant is a nuclear power generation center located near the town of Blaye, not far from Bourdeaux, in the heart of the Blayais marsh, in the town of Braud-et-Saint-Louis, on the edge of the Gironde. In service since 1981, it is managed by Électricité de France and produces electricity that is injected into the French electricity grid. It is cooled by water from the Gironde estuary which is pumped via underwater pipelines. As early as 1998, the annual safety review of the Blayais power station indicated the need for a 50cm rise in the dikes, but EDF deferred this raising of its protection dike. On 19 November 1999, EDF was ordered to produce a safety work schedule by a letter reminding it to order. On December 27, 1999, the strong winds produced by the storm Martin caused a sudden rise in the waters of the estuary and the flooding of part of the plant. An overvoltage on the electrical network will first cause the emergency shutdown of reactors 2 and 4. Later, debris carried by the flooded Gironde obstruct a cooling pump reactor 1, which is also put into operation emergency stop. The fourth reactor was shut down as part of normal maintenance operations. The incident was rated Level 2 on the INES scale. Since 2000, EDF has invested more than 100 million euros in various works to remedy this problem. Since 1999, the Tchernoblaye association has been working in Gironde to demand the closure of the Blayais nuclear power plant. In 2002 and 2003, EDF declared two generic level 1 incidents on the INES scale, relating to the earthquake resistance of the components of the Blayais power station.

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Published: 6 December 2018