An inspection of the design, construction and early manufacturing activities of the £18bn-plus Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset has found that adequate quality management systems are not consistently implemented and some fall below standard.
The inspection by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was carried out after falsified documents were uncovered at Cresuot Forge in France last year. The forge is owned by French firm Areva, now Framatome, which is a key supplier for Hinkley and is designing its reactor.
The ONR was investigating whether EDF-owned firm NNB GenCo’s supply chain management systems are fit for purpose. NNB GenCo has been set up by EDF to carry out construction activities at Hinkley Point C.
Although the ONR found better quality control systems had been implemented, several key areas still need improvement and dragged the overall rating down from green to amber.
ONR chief nuclear inspector Mark Foy said: “ONR believes that good progress has been made by NNB GenCo and its key supplier Areva Creusot Forge in deploying their improvement programmes – including enhanced manufacturing processes, management system arrangements and safety and quality culture.
“However the inspection has identified a number of areas where improvements are required to ensure this position is robustly maintained as the project progresses and the volume of work and resources required increases.”
The ONR found that there was a “lack of clarity” around project-wide leadership of NNB GenCo’s quality organisation, and advised the firm to “consider the effectiveness of its current project assurance arrangements and identify areas for improvement”.
It also found that although management had improved at Areva Creusot Forge, as the changes have not yet been implemented NNB GenCo will still need to scrutinise arrangements.
A spokesperson for EDF Energy said: “The Chief Nuclear Inspector’s report recognises that the current quality control arrangements for Hinkley Point C are appropriate. It also highlights the good progress EDF Energy and Areva NP (now Framatome) have made to improve procedures at Creusot Forge.
“Robust independent inspection by the regulator helps to ensure that we and our suppliers maintain the highest standards of safety and quality. EDF Energy is already implementing measures where improvement is required ahead of an increase in construction and manufacturing activities.”
Framatome has been contacted for comment.