Nuclear: new leaks at the Flamanville power plant

    New leaks were detected at the Flamanville 1 and 2 power plant.
    New leaks were detected at the Flamanville 1 and 2 power plant. (© Jean-Paul BARBIER)

    Flamanville 1 and 2 power plant (Manche) declared a significant environmental event on September 30, 2021 to the French Nuclear Safety Authority.

    This is again discharges into the atmosphere, however, having no radiological consequences. EDF has thus communicated on the cumulative SF6 gas emissions greater than 100 kg since the 1er January 2021.

    On September 27, 2021, the cumulative annual amount of SF6 gas emissions reached 100.37 kg, exceeding the reporting threshold of 100 kg.


    In nine months, the Flamanville site has therefore exceeded the authorized threshold. This is not the first time this year.

    Already in September 2021, EDF announced the loss of 73.5 kg of fluid during a maintenance operation on the EPR, exceeding the quantity authorized for the whole year. The cumulative amount was already 172.4 kg on… August 15 while the limit is set at 100 kg per year.

    Other leaks in June and August

    And in June 2021, the Flamanville 1-2 plant had also communicated on the leak of 141 kg of refrigerants, once again above the authorized annual limit of 100 kg.

    For its part, the Sortir du nuclear network notes that this is “the second year in a row that the nuclear site has released more SF6 gas than it is theoretically entitled to”. The anti-nuclear association recalls in passing that “despite its proven impact on the environment, EDF did not report any of these leaks until 2018 …”.

    Letting 100 kg of this gas escape is equivalent to emitting more than 2,000,000 kg of C0² into the atmosphere. And this gas, extremely stable, will take more than 3000 years to decompose. Each kilogram emitted therefore remains in the atmosphere for several thousand years.

    Network Exit nuclear

    What is SF6?

    Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) gas is used to ensure the electrical insulation of high voltage equipment. According to specialists, it is the gas with the most powerful potential greenhouse effect on the planet. However, it is only used in small quantities and its contribution to the anthropogenic greenhouse effect is around 0.3%. The fact remains that its consumption has been increasing continuously for thirty years … On the Flamanville site, SF6 gas is used as an insulator for the energy evacuation stations and the supply stations for auxiliary transformers.


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