The Valencia-based GDES Group has consolidated its position in France as a supplier of high value-added technology to EDF, with the capacity to develop and build Critical Nuclear Safety Systems.
The Fukushima nuclear accident marked a turning point in prevention and safety at nuclear power plants. It enhanced the culture of safety and a number of lessons were learned: response planning now also includes beyond-design-basis accidents, including those caused by extreme natural events, such as Fukushima, which was caused by a combination of an earthquake and resulting tsunami of historical proportions. Improving response capability for both foreseen and unforeseen events has led to the incorporation of various new technological, protocol and facility improvements in all types of critical infrastructure over the past 12 years.
As a result, the Nuclear Rapid Action Force (FARN) was created in France, under the authority of EDF: specialist response teams capable of acting in less than 24 hours at any French power plant as part of their emergency plans.
In 2012, GDES developed a design and a pilot prototype for the Nuclear Rapid Action Force (FARN) to provide mobile devices to automatically and continuously supply borated water to the standby liquid control system in nuclear power plants (Système de Purification Traitement et Refroidissement des piscines de désactivation du combustible, PTR) in emergency situations (Borilain Project). On the basis of this proposal, in 2020, EDF awarded GDES a new contract for two deliveries of Mobile Boration Units, designed to meet current needs and known today as the UMB project.
The UMB project, the largest technological undertaking in the history of the Valencia-based GDES Group.
In just 26 months, GDES designed, manufactured and supplied the two Mobile Boration Units (UMB) requested by EDF and trained FARN personnel to use them.
The units were built to provide a rapid response to keep the spent fuel (BK) and reactor (BR) pools in a safe and stable (subcritical) situation, thanks to a design that can be deployed and operational within 90 minutes. In addition, the UMBs are automated, allowing remote monitoring, minimising on-site intervention time for operators and optimising radiological safety parameters for emergency personnel. And, as they are mobile, they can be stationed at strategic locations so that, in the event of an emergency, they can be transported as quickly as possible to different parts of France.
As established by EDF (Électricité de France), the UMBs developed by GDES are EIPS – Elément Important pour la Protection des Intérêts Protégés (Important Equipment for the Protection of Protected Interests – and are rated Important Pour la Sûreté (Important for Nuclear Safety).
The UMB project is the largest technological undertaking in the history of the Valencia-based GDES Group and has put it on the map of the European market for developers of technological solutions for the nuclear sector. GDES has been operating in the French nuclear market for over fifteen years, where it has successfully consolidated its position with an average annual growth rate of 54% in recent years. It was also the first European (non-French) company to hold CAEAR certification to perform decommissioning services for the CEA (the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission). Since 2020, it has provided surface maintenance and coating services for 20% of French nuclear facilities and has become a benchmark in the application of coatings on the most important nuclear fusion project in the world, ITER (located in Cadarache, France), and is now one of the leading companies in coatings and surface treatment in France.