Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant

Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant

Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant
Location of Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant in France
Official name Centrale Nucléaire de Saint-Laurent
Country France
Location Saint-Laurent-Nouan
Coordinates 47°43′12″N 01°34′39″E / 47.72000°N 1.57750°E / 47.72000; 1.57750Coordinates: 47°43′12″N 01°34′39″E / 47.72000°N 1.57750°E / 47.72000; 1.57750
Status Operational
Construction began 1963
Commission date March 24, 1969 (March 24, 1969) (Saint-Laurent A)
1983 (Saint-Laurent B)
Decommission date 1990 (Saint-Laurent A-1)
1991 (Saint-Laurent A-2)
Operator(s) EDF
Nuclear power station
Reactor type GCR (retired)
Reactor supplier Framatome
Power generation
Units operational 2 x 956 MW
Make and model Alstom
Units decommissioned 1 x 390 MW
1 x 450 MW
Nameplate capacity 1,912 MW
Average generation 12,918 GWh
Site c/o Betreibers

The Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Station is located in the commune of Saint-Laurent-Nouan in Loir-et-Cher on the Loire 28 km upstream from Blois and 30 km downstream from Orléans.

The site includes two operating pressurized water reactors (each 900MWe), which began operation in 1983. They are cooled by the water of the Loire River.

Two other UNGG reactors used to exist at the site, which were brought into service in 1969 and 1971 and were retired in April 1990 and June 1992.[1]

The site employs approximately 670 regular workers.


On October 17, 1969 50 kg of uranium in one of the gas cooled reactors began to melt. This event was classified at 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES),[2] and is, as of Dec 2011, the most serious civil nuclear power accident in France.[3]

On March 13, 1980 there was some annealing that occurred in the graphite of one of the reactors, causing a brief heat excursion. This was also classified as 4 on the INES and has been called the worst nuclear accident in France. Much later, the Institute of Marine Biochemistry at the École normale supérieure de Montrouge claimed that they found traces of plutonium in the river which they believed was released in the 1980 or 1969 accident many years ago.[4]

On the morning of 12 January 1987 at 9 h 30, due to the exceptional frost of Loire, ice clogs the water taken from the central A1 (GCR) and resulted in the loss of normal cooling. This causes the automatic shutdown of the gas-graphite reactor. The cooling system needed to remove the residual power failed as the diesel generators failed to start. It was necessary to fed it by the western power grid of France. The generators were eventually returned to service, just before the collapse of the power grid which took place around noon after a failure of the thermal power Cordemais.[5] The army was then called in in order to destroy the ice that was blocking the water intakes with explosives.[6]

On 12 May 2004, radioactive sodium was released into the atmosphere during a leak test of new steam generators of one of the reactors at the B plant. The incident, which resulted in the automatic shutdown of the reactor, was of no consequence for the environment according to the EDF. Sortir du nucléaire noted however that when the automatic shutdown of the reactor happened, the control rods remained blocked for unknown reasons.[7]

On August 19, 2011, the reactor #1 stopped after a failure.[8]

Flood risk

The initial report following the 1999 Blayais Nuclear Power Plant flood, identified the Saint-Laurent plant as being at risk of flooding, and called for its safety measures to be re-examined.[9] Plans to build a flood wall around the site were made but abandoned, it is thought, due the cost.[3]


  1. Elecnuc: Nuclear Power Plants in the World, CEA, 2006
  2. "INES - The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale" (pdf). International Atomic Energy Agency. 2008-08-01. p. 2. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
  3. 1 2 Les Echos - 18/03/11 - A Saint-Laurent, EDF a renoncé à construire une digue contre les inondations Les Echos, published 2011-03-18, accessed 2011-03-30
  4. Contrôle 137, novembre 2000 archive Les rejets des installations nucléaires (page 77, in French)
  5. Les jeux de l'atome et du hasard, Jean-Pierre Pharabod et Jean-Paul Schapira, Éditions Calmann-Lévy, 1988.
  6. Le canard enchainé, 23/03/2011 : Petits pépins deviendront grands
  7. radioactive Rejection at St-Laurent-des-Eaux, AFP of 13 May 2004
  8. unexpected shutdown of the reactor 1 of the St-Laurent-des-Eaux Trading on Sat August 19, 2011
  9. Rapport sur l'inondation du site du Blayais survenue le 27 décembre 1999 Institute for Nuclear Protection and Safety, published 2000-01-17, accessed 2011-03-21
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