October 20, 2017

Employees of Paimboeuf mobilized on a new industrial project

2017 marks a new step forward in the industrial development of the Fuel BU's Paimboeuf site. Its production capacity is to be raised to 10,000 keq/year (kilometers equivalent) of zirconium tubes for the nuclear industry by 2020 compared to 7,000 currently, corresponding to an increase of 30 %.

This initiative supported by AREVA NP's Strategic Plan aims to produce more in French plants to meet customer demand. It will also enable the site to create 62 permanent jobs by 2019 across all functions at the plant: production, maintenance, processes and methods, flow management, QHSE, etc. Numerous opportunities are already there to be taken (see paragraph on recruitment initiatives underway).

This joint project has been developed by working together with:

  • trade union organizations within the framework of a process of labor relations dialogue which resulted in the signature of a majority agreement on September 22,
  • employees who helped to find the most relevant solutions with a view to its deployment through working groups.

It will be based on three levers:

  • Continuous improvement and high-performance execution, in order to optimize existing manufacturing processes and flow, working on the basis of the operational excellence program, to increase production capacity;
  • The launching of significant investments: 18 million euros over the period 2017-2021, of which more than 5 million euros has already been released for technical debottlenecking* projects to ease bottlenecks in plant and to make processes more reliable, to improve safety, quality and technical capacity. New infrastructure, such as cloakrooms, a canteen and a reception area, is also going to be put in place;
  • The deployment of production teams at the weekend to help handle the increase in workload.

To facilitate the upskilling of new arrivals, processes for reception, integration and transfer of technical knowledge are being reinforced. These are key success factors to maintain the site's expertise.

For Emmanuel Bertran de Balanda, Director of the AREVA NP Paimboeuf site, "The increase in our production capacities, the creation of jobs and the considerable investment being made here give the Paimboeuf plant a solid base for the long-term future. They mean the site will have a key role to play in the industrial strategy of the company, the nuclear sector and the local economy. This project is both an industrial and a shared venture. It is a project for the future, and one that we can be all be proud of."

* Debottlenecking: technical development of equipment, in order to increase its technical production capacity

Find out more about the Paimboeuf site and recruitment initiatives in progress

Drawing on nearly 40 years' experience, the Paimboeuf (Loire-Atlantique) produces zirconium tubes and bars to be used in the manufacturing of fuel assemblies. Its employees work on a daily basis to deliver products that are safe and of a high level of quality, making this plant one of the leading sites in the world of the manufacturing of zirconium tubes. The aim is to set a production record of 7,000 keq in 2017.

In view of its prospective workload, the Paimboeuf site recruits on a regular basis for all of the jobs at the site in Production (production operator, etc.), Maintenance (mechanical, electro-mechanical/instrumentation, maintenance methods), Methods and Inspections (engineer/technician in methods and processes, NDT technician, laboratory analyst, etc.), Quality, HSE, Flow management and scheduling of production.

Consult the available offers on e-talent or contact Pierre-Olivier ALLAIN, Human Resources and Communications Manager for the site.

  • Activities of the Fuel BU at Paimboeuf

    Industrial activities for Zirconium are distributed over five production sites in France: Jarrie (Isère), Ugine (Savoie), Montreuil-Juigné (Maine-et-Loire), Paimboeuf (Loire-Atlantique) and Rugles (Eure).

  • Activity of the Paimboeuf site

    The Paimboeuf plant, as the final step in the transformation of zirconium, receives TREXs from the Montreuil-Juigné site and delivers finished products to the Group’s nuclear fuel fabrication sites and external fuel customers.

    The Paimboeuf site’s main activities take place in two facilities:

    • The Chemical Thermal and Pilgering facility which rolls tubes and bars before they undergo chemical and heat treatment.
    • The Finishing and Control Lab (FCL), which performs the finishing and inspection operations of guide tubes, cladding tubes and the endplug barstock.
  • Main stages of the fabrication process

    Transformation operations performed on the Paimboeuf site include pilgering, chemical and thermal treatment, finishing and inspection. Surface treatments require the use of chemical products like hydrofluoric and nitric acid.

  • Key figures
    • Site created: 1978
    • 330 employees at the end of 2016
    • Prospective workload in 2017: production of the equivalent of 7,000 km of zirconium tubes, which would be a first for the Paimboeuf site

Find out more


Zirconium is the leading material for nuclear fuel assemblies used in light water reactors (PWRs and BWRs) because it is transparent to neutrons, it has good temperature performance, and it withstands corrosion.

Zirconium alloys are used to produce the main mechanical components of nuclear fuel assemblies. The cladding tubes, once filled with uranium pellets and sealed, form the fuel rods. The guide tubes and grids, once assembled, form the rigid structure of the fuel assembly: the skeleton.


  • Cladding tubes: thin tubes designed to contain uranium pellets and facilitate the transfer of heat to the nuclear reactor water.
  • Guide tubes: they are distinct from cladding tubes and serve a dual purpose: they form the structure of fuel assemblies and enable the insertion of control rods into fuel assemblies during operation to regulate the fission reaction.
  • Endplug barstock: zirconium bars designed to be cut and processed in the manufacture of rod endplugs, which are subsequently welded to both ends of the cladding tubes containing uranium pellets. The endplugs, tube and pellets combine to form a fuel rod.