At the very end of 2016, Green Delaware reported on a major nuclear power industry scandal. See the link for the whole story, but to recap briefly: Areva/Le Creusot Forge, a major supplier of nuclear plant parts–big, vital parts, such as steam generators and reactor vessels–was found to be using defective manufacturing methods and falsifying paperwork. The factory has been closed down by the French Nuclear Safety Authority.
There are only a few places in the world that can forge the huge steel parts several inches thick that contain the nuclear power genie. AREVA/Le Creusot is one of these, and it has had many orders from the US. The essence of the metallurgical problem is that the parts could contain excessive amounts of carbon which could lead to cracking of the steel and let the nuclear genie out of the bottle.
French regulators have taken this seriously and a number of French reactors have been shut down for thorough inspection. Defects have been found. In the US, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the agency that regulates the nuclear industry–and many feel is actually part of the nuclear industry–seems to be taking the problems less seriously. Continue reading