The UK nuclear regulator has raised concerns with EDF Energy over management failings that it warns could affect safety at the Hinkley Point C power station if left unaddressed, official documents reveal. Britain’s chief nuclear inspector identified several shortcomings in the way the French firm is managing the supply chain for the £20bn plant it is building in Somerset. Though not serious enough alone to raise regulatory issues, together they “may indicate a broader deficiency” in the way the company is run, concluded Mark Foy, chief inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). In October and November 2017, a team of 11 inspectors led by Foy visited the Hinkley site, EDF facilities in Bristol and Paris, and a French factory making parts for the plant. The visits were triggered by the regulator’s concerns that EDF did not have sufficient oversight of the Creusot nuclear forge in France, where records have been found to be falsified. A summary of the inspections, published by the ONR earlier this month, judged EDF’s supply chain management to be improving but below standard in some areas. The full reports, released to the Guardian under freedom of information rules, paint a critical picture. They show that: A lack of resources meant EDF did not undertake an internal audit of its quality control processes during 2017. Foy said this was “disappointing” as it might have picked up problems; On safety, the report said: “Throughout this … inspection, themes have emerged that relate to both improvements in NNB GenCo’s [the EDF subsidiary building Hinkley] processes and to shortfalls in management system arrangements that, if unresolved, have the potential to affect safety.” EDF’s own assessment of how it managed Hinkley’s supply chain had discovered shortfalls that could affect safety, the regulator found. The ONR also felt that the company’s plan for improving its self-assessment process was inadequate. Moreover, they said that it was not clear who at EDF was managing quality control on the supply chain. Interviews with EDF’s contractors for the Hinkley project, which include civil engineering groups Kier BAM and Bylor, also found that EDF had not done enough to pass on information about the failings at the Creusot forge to its suppliers.
Guardian 25th March 2018 read more »