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Fresh blow for EDF with probe into practices at Tricastin nuclear plant

·1-min read
View of the reactors buildings at the Tricastin nuclear power plant site in Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux

PARIS (Reuters) - French power utility EDF faces an investigation into alleged non-disclosure of safety incidents at its Tricastin nuclear power plant, the lawyer of a whistleblower told Reuters on Thursday, in another setback for the state-controlled company.

Last month, EDF said the nuclear outages related to an inspections and repairs program would cost it 4.5 billion euros ($4.82 billion), more than estimated earlier.

The company has been forced to launch checks across its nuclear fleet after discovering corrosion on high-pressure pipes which has prompted outages and repairs.

The whistleblower's lawyer William Bourdon told Reuters that his client, an EDF employee, filed a complaint against the management of the site in November claiming "endangerment of people's lives" and violations of civil law.

EDF is not the subject of a probe as yet, but prosecutors have launched an investigation "against X", Bourdon said, confirming media reports, which allows them to investigate the actions of several parties.

EDF declined to comment, and the Marseille prosecutors leading the investigation in southern France were not immediately available to comment.

EDF, in which the French state owns more than 80%, operates 56 reactors across France and is responsible for about 70% of the country's power supply.

Despite the news of the probe, EDF shares were up almost 5% shortly after 0830 GMT after business daily Les Echos said the government planned to nationalise the company, a prospect flagged by Emmanuel Macron during his reelection campaign.,

Since the start of the year, EDF's shares are still down almost 14% versus a 5% decline for the Stoxx Europe 600 utilities over the same period.

($1 = 0.9341 euros)

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten; editing by Jason Neely and Kim Coghill)

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