|Fig. 1: A close-up view of the Paluel Nuclear Power Plant from the streets of Paluel, France. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)|
The Paluel Nuclear Power Plant is located in the small town of Paluel in Normandy, France. Fig. 1 shows a view of the power plant from the street on a cloudy day. It consists of four 1330 MWe class pressurized reactors. The primary function of these reactors is performed by using water that's pumped under extremely high pressure where it's heated by the energy produced by the fission of atoms. This process is called cooling. For this plant, water from the English Chanel is used to cool.
As far as production is concerned, the Paluel Plant is ranked as the second leading producer of electricity in France and the seventh in the entire world. The public electricity grid in France is blessed with 32 billion KW hours by the plant. Currently there are 1,250 people that work full-time at the plant, which has helped boost the French economy through the creation of such jobs and stability that comes with working at the plant.
EDF is an acronym for Electricité de France. As the world's biggest electricity generator, the EDF Group claims to cover every single area of expertise, including generation, trading, and transmission grids. EDF has 38.5 million customers world wide. The company makes 72.9 billion euros in annual revenue. In terms of net investment, EDF invests 12 billion euros.
|Fig. 2: Another view of the Paluel Nuclear Power Plant, this one taken from the parking lot. In this image some of the large nuclear reactors are visible. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)|
A massive fire broke out at 10:30 pm on Friday, July 2nd 2015. The fire was so intense that it took 71 firefighters working for 6 hours to extinguish it. The fire occurred in unit number two and fortunately, all employees evacuated safely and there were officially zero injuries or casualties reported. To give an idea of how big the fire was, see Fig. 2. Imagine the plant going up in flames.
As far as the future is concerned, there have been major efforts to enforce safety protocol to protect the 1,250 people that work there. The company plans on performing more annual inspections and focusing with attention to detail to prevent any type of future disasters that would halt the production of the plant.  Before the fire occurred, OSART (the operational safety review team) claims that although good design, manufacture and construction are prerequisites, safety also depends on the ability of operating personnel and their conscientiousness in discharging their responsibilities. In the future, the Paluel Nuclear Power Plant must be more attentive to the instructions provided by OSART.
So far, plant management is doing a wonderful job.  The plant uses several innovative technical programmes to improve the quality of its operation. One example is the use of a helium detection system for identifying condenser tube leaks which enables very small leaks to be identified and fixed. In addition to that, the plant staff is considered to be motivated, experienced, and committed to achieving greatness, innovation, production, and safety all in one.
© Dallas Lloyd. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
 "Report of OSART Mission to France Paluel Nuclear Power Plant," International Atomic Energy Agency, 4 Aug 99.