* Areva sent faulty fuel roads to several nuclear plants
* Says no danger, declines to identify which reactors
* Swiss Leibstadt closed, no comment on EDF reactors
By Geert De Clercq and John Revill
PARIS/ZURICH, Nov 17 (Reuters) - French nuclear group Areva delivered defective fuel rods for nuclear reactors but said on Friday that there was no safety risk.
Swiss media, however, reported that a Swiss nuclear plant was closed due to problems with the rods.
Areva said in a statement that following the discovery of a leaking fuel rod at its Paimboeuf, France, zirconium-tube manufacturing plant, tests had showed that some fuel rods which should have been rejected were delivered to utilities companies.
Fuel rods which already have been loaded in reactors can continue operating without impairing plant safety and none of the affected rods have caused leaks, Areva said.
An Areva spokesman said that utilities operating the faulty tubes had been informed but declined say to which companies were involved, citing “industrial confidentiality”.
He declined to say whether French utility EDF, Areva’s main customer, had received faulty rods. EDF has had to close several reactors in the past two years due to manufacturing problems at Areva foundry Creusot Forge.
Swiss broadcaster SRF reported that the Leibstadt nuclear plant in northern Switzerland has been closed till the end of the year because of faulty Areva fuel rods.
A spokeswoman for the Leibstadt plant confirmed that a supplier had informed the utility that there was a problem with 16 new fuel rods, but declined to identify the supplier.
She added that the supplier later also said that six fuel rods which had already been installed were also faulty. The rods - which hold the uranium pellets that generate heat in the reactor core - had been installed in the last three-four years.
“The rods that were already installed had not caused any problems but we removed them as a precaution. There was no safety issue,” she said.
The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate has been informed and that the plant - which had been set to reopen Nov. 7 following maintenance - will remain closed till end December.
Leibstadt, built in 1984, is one of five nuclear power plants in Switzerland. The site, which is owned by a consortium of Axpo, Alpiq and BKW, is the biggest electricity supplier in Switzerland, providing power to 2 million homes in the country. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq in Paris and John Revill in Zurich Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)