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PARIS, June 28 (Reuters) - EDF's nuclear reactor in Flamanville, north-western France, can start up despite weak spots in its steel, a group of experts said, confirming the nuclear regulator ASN's recommendation, a source familiar with the situation said.
The group, charged with reviewing the ASN's report into the reactor, agreed with its conclusion that EDF will have to consider replacing the cover of the new reactor vessel in a few years if it is not able to implement additional tests required by the ASN.
The group's non-binding recommendation - which will be used by the ASN to formulate a final ruling on Flamanville this autumn - is expected to be published by the ASN later this week.
The source also said that representatives of EDF told the group of experts that it had started a procedure to order a new cover for the reactor from Areva, which has designed the reactor. The new piece would be forged by Japan Steel Works and tooled by Areva.
EDF plans to build two of the same Areva-designed European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) models as Flamanville in Hinkley Point, Britain.
EDF and ASN declined to comment. (Additional reporting by Benjamin Mallet, editing by Louise Heavens)