July 31, 2017

The manufacturing of nuclear reactor components: quality and nuclear safety at the heart of a large-scale plan for Creusot Forge

The AREVA NP facility at Le Creusot is one of the only facilities in the world capable of producing the large forged parts required for the power plants nuclear islands. Since the launch of civil nuclear programs in the 1970s, the facility has supplied some 3,000 forgings and castings for the reactor coolant systems of nuclear facilities all around the world.

In April 2015, following the detection of methodological discrepancies in the performance of tensile tests conducted during the manufacturing process, AREVA NP decided to launch a comprehensive quality audit at the Le Creusot site. This audit brought to light irregularities in the manufacturing records at the site. AREVA NP then reinforced the control and the traceability of the operations in progress, implementing double-checking of documentation and measures relating to the transcription of documents.

With inputs including the analysis of the causes of these irregularities and reports compiled by third parties such as the independent audit firm Lloyds Register Apave, a global improvement plan was drawn up by the Creusot Forge teams. Its deployment, begun in 2016, continues through 2017.

This plan has two main objectives:

  • To identify the causes of the past irregularities and non-compliant practices;
  • To restore the quality system to full efficacy and establish effective control of production processes.

The purpose of this plan for AREVA NP is to restore the confidence of its customers, the different safety authorities around the world and all other stakeholders, and consolidate Creusot Forge's place among the worldwide references in the nuclear forging industry.

The 220 employees who work there are fully mobilized to implement the improvement plan. Each one of them, in their own area, is committed to stepping up the nuclear safety and quality of the components produced at the site. 

70% of the actions in the plan underway at Creusot Forge have been completed by July 2017.

All of the necessary actions  aimed at resuming  forging operationsfor the project to supply two EPR reactors to the UK have been put in place. On-site reviews and inspections have taken place regularly to provide information for the customer, NNB, and the UK safety authority, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), on progress made on all these actions. Test parts - two primary legs and a steam generator nozzle shell - were forged in March and June 2017 to substantiate the operational, organizational and technical control delivered by the measures put in place under the plan. A detailed review in mid-June provided the basis for setting milestones for the resumption of production.

Creusot Forge's customers in France and abroad, as well as all the safety authorities concerned, are being kept regularly informed of the actions undertaken at the site.