(Adds companies that own the reactors, background, quote from
Union of Concerned Scientists)
WASHINGTON Jan 10 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) on Tuesday unveiled a letter showing that 17 of
the country's nuclear reactors have parts from Areva SA's
Le Creusot forge in France, which is under
investigation for allegedly falsifying documents on the quality
of its parts.
The number of reactors was more than the nine the NRC had
Last month authorities in France opened an investigation
into decades of alleged forgery of documents relating to the
quality of parts produced at Le Creusot and used in power plants
around the world.
Areva, a nuclear and renewable energy firm, furnished the
information to the U.S. regulator last month but had urged the
agency to keep it private, saying it was material to the
business of nuclear power generators. The NRC told Areva it did
not consider the information to be so and released it 10 days
after receiving it.
The parts at reactors include a reactor head at Xcel Energy
Inc's Prairie Island reactor in Minnesota, reactor
vessel heads at two of Dominion Resources Inc's reactors
at the North Anna plant in Virginia, and another vessel head at
Dominion's reactor in Surry, Virginia. Some of the components
were made by other companies but include parts from the Le
"We have four components with forgings from Le Creusot and
have verified that all are fine. They all check out and meet our
design criteria and there are no problems," said Richard
Zuercher, nuclear spokesman at Dominion Resources Inc.
Xcel Energy Inc said previously that some components of the
two reactor vessels were made at Le Creusot in the early 1970s.
"Our testing and inspections are rigorous and have not
identified any issues," Colleen Mahoney, an Xcel spokeswoman
said last week.
Anti-nuclear power groups such as Greenpeace had urged the
NRC to release the information. The NRC has maintained that the
parts and the reactors were completely safe. Areva told the NRC
that a review of paperwork anomalies "has not found any safety
French nuclear regulator ASN said Areva told it of evidence
of irregularities in about 400 components produced at Le Creusot
David Lochbaum, an expert on nuclear energy at the Union of
Concerned scientists, said the Le Creusot issue was "troubling
from both trust and public safety perspectives" because to a
large degree both the NRC and U.S. nuclear power plants depended
on vendors to certify their work.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Scott Disavino in New York;
Editing by Andrew Hay)