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PARIS, March 31 (Reuters) - French nuclear regulator ASN on Friday published extracts of a decade's worth of correspondence in which it had warned about safety issues at Areva-owned nuclear foundry Creusot Forge.
Commercial production at the foundry has been halted since late 2016 after the ASN discovered manufacturing irregularities and forgery of tracking documentation. Two of state utility EDF's reactors have been halted for months following the discovery of problems with components manufactured by Creusot Forge.
In the first of several letters published by the ASN, a Dec. 12, 2005 letter to EDF highlights manufacturing irregularities at the foundry which the regulator said raised questions about the quality of its work. It also urged EDF to closely monitor safety rules there.
The publication follows a report by radio station France Inter which said EDF and its supplier Areva had allowed Creusot Forge to manufacture the base and cover for the reactor vessel in Flamanville, Normandy, despite the ASN's warnings.
Despite several more warnings in following years, Creusot Forge manufactured the parts, which were installed in the reactor in 2014. In 2015, Areva finally discovered that there was a problem with excessive carbon concentrations in the components. Such concentrations can weaken steel.
The ASN now needs to rule on whether the reactor - which is due to be completed late next year - could function safely despite these weak spots. The ASN on Friday said it would rule on the issue "this summer", pushing back an earlier deadline for a ruling by mid-2007.
Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Andrew Callus