IRSN, created by Act 2001-398 of 9 May 2001 and by decree 2002-254 of 22 February 2002, was set up as an independent public industrial and commercial establishment, as part of the national reorganisation of nuclear safety and radiation protection regulation, in order to bring together public expertise and research resources in these fields. IRSN reports to the ministers for the environment, health, research, industry and defence.
The Institute conducts and implements research programmes in order to build its public expertise capacity on the very latest national and international scientific knowledge in the fields of nuclear and radiological risks. It is tasked with providing technical support for the public authorities with competence for safety, radiation protection and security, in both the civil and defence sectors.
IRSN also performs certain public service responsibilities, in particular monitoring of the environment and of populations exposed to ionising radiations.
IRSN manages national databases (national nuclear material accounting, national inventory of radioactive sources, file for monitoring worker exposure to ionising radiations, etc.), and contributes to information of the public concerning the risks linked to ionising radiations.
In 2012, IRSN’s total budget amounted to € 212 million, of which € 84 million were devoted to providing ASN with technical support.
IRSN credits for ASN technical support are covered in part (€ 46.4 million) by a subsidy from the State’s general budget allocated to IRSN and included in action 11 “Research in the field of risks” of programme 190 “Research in the fields of energy and sustainable development and spatial planning”, of the interministerial “Research and higher education” mission. The rest (€37.6 million) is covered by a contribution from the nuclear licensees. This contribution was put into place by the budget amendment act of 29th December 2010.