Blayais Nuclear Power Plant

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Blayais Nuclear Power Plant
Centrale nucléaire du Blayais 2.jpg
Blayais Nuclear Power Plant is located in France
Blayais Nuclear Power Plant
Location of Blayais Nuclear Power Plant within France
Official name Centrale nucléaire du Blayais
Country France
Location Blaye
Coordinates 45°15′21″N 0°41′35″W / 45.25583°N 0.69306°W / 45.25583; -0.69306Coordinates: 45°15′21″N 0°41′35″W / 45.25583°N 0.69306°W / 45.25583; -0.69306
Construction began 1976
Commission date 12 June 1981
Operator(s) EDF
Nuclear power station
Reactor type PWR
Power generation
Units operational 4 x 951 MW
Nameplate capacity 3,804 MW
Capacity factor 79.7%
Annual output 26,569 GW·h

The Blayais Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear plant on the banks of the Gironde estuary near Blaye, South Western France operated by Électricité de France.


The power plant has 4 pressurized water reactors – producing 951 MW each. They were commissioned from 1981 to 1983. The plant has 1200 EDF employees and 350 permanent workers.[citation needed]

The four reactors produce about 27 TWh per year which totals to 1.5 times more than the electricity needs of the Aquitaine region. Since its commissioning, the Blayais nuclear power plant has produced more than 500 TWh, the equivalent of the French electricity production in one year.[citation needed]

In its 2007 annual report, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) finds overall safety of the power plant as satisfactory but finds that the organization put in place to manage emergencies is robust and the site must be more rigorous in the preparation of interventions.[citation needed]

Selected incidents[edit]

2002 earthquake[edit]

In 2002 and 2003, EDF reported two level 1 incidents on the INES scale about the seismic resilience of the plant.[citation needed]

The incident reported on the 14 October 2002 earthquake advised the keeping of water reservoirs to ensure the cooling of the core in case of accident. The work required to bring the plant into compliance was completed in December 2005.[citation needed]

The incident on 28 October 2003 reported seismic behavior of piping connected to a tank of water affected by the incident of 14 October 2002.[citation needed]

1999 flooding[edit]

On the evening of 27 December 1999, a combination of the incoming tide and high winds overwhelmed the sea walls at the plant and causing parts of the plant to be flooded.[1] The event resulted in the loss of the plant's off-site power supply and knocked out several safety-related backup systems, resulting in a 'level 2' event on the International Nuclear Event Scale.[2]

At the time, units 1, 2 and 4 were at full power, while unit 3 was shut down for refuelling.[1] The operation of units 1 and 2 were affected by flood damage to a number of water pumps and distribution panels, all four units lost their 225 kV power supplies, while units 2 and 4 also lost their 400 kV power supplies.[1] Diesel backup generators were employed to maintain power to plants 2 and 4 until the 400 kV supply was restored.[1] Over the following days an estimated 90,000 m3 (3,200,000 cu ft) of water was pumped out of the flooded buildings.[1]

On 5 January, the regional newspaper Sud-Ouest ran the following headline without being contradicted:Very close to a major accident, explaining that a catastrophe had been narrowly avoided.[3]

The flooding resulted in fundamental changes to the evaluation of flood risk at nuclear power plants, and in the precautions taken.[4]

In Germany the flooding prompted the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety to order an evaluation of the German nuclear power plants.[1]


Stéphane Lhomme in front of Blayais' Nuclear power station

The continued operation of the Blayais plant is opposed by the local anti-nuclear group 'TchernoBlaye' (a portmanteau of the French spelling of Chernobyl and Blaye, the nearest town), formed by Stéphane Lhomme on 15 December 1999.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Generic Results and Conclusions of Re-evaluating the Flooding in French and German Nuclear Power Plants J. M. Mattéi, E. Vial, V. Rebour, H. Liemersdorf, M. Türschmann, Eurosafe Forum 2001, published 2001, accessed 2011-03-21
  2. ^ COMMUNIQUE N°7 - INCIDENT SUR LE SITE DU BLAYAIS ASN, published 1999-12-30, accessed 2011-03-22
  3. ^ Sud-Ouest, 5 janvier 2000 - Centrale de Blaye : Très près de l'accident majeur
  4. ^ Lessons Learned from 1999 Blayais Flood: Overview of the EDF Flood Risk Management Plan, Eric de Fraguier, EDF, published 2010-03-11, accessed 2011-03-22
  5. ^ L'histoire de TchernoBlaye TchernoBlaye, accessed 2011-03-29

External links[edit]