ASN Report on the State of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection in France in 2018

Published on 21/05/2019 • 04:42 pm

Press release

ASN identifies three challenges for nuclear safety and radiation protection in France:
the need to anticipate, maintaining safety margins and focusing on skills in the nuclear sector

ASN report presentation at the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices
ASN report presentation at the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices

On 16 May, ASN presented its report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2018 to the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices (OPECST). This report was handed over to the Presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly, and to the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.It is today published on www.asn.fr.

ASN considers that in 2018 the operating safety of the large nuclear facilities and radiation protection in the industrial and medical sectors were on the whole maintained at a satisfactory level.  Technical dialogue with the licensees and the activity managers enabled the subjects to be dealt with in sufficient depth, in the light of the nuclear safety and radiation protection issues.

In the nuclear field:

The fuel cycle consistency analysis was the subject of extensive mobilisation on the part of the licensees and led to a comprehensive, up-to-date and forward-looking view of the safety issues and of the spent fuel storage capacity requirements.

The EDF and Framatome review of all the dossiers concerning the forged parts manufactured at Le Creusot plant was carried out within the allotted time.

The licensees are aware that management of the ageing of facilities and of maintenance operations, along with compliance of the facilities with their baseline safety requirements, still need to be improved.

For all the licensees, the recovery and packaging of legacy waste, along with decommissioning operations, are still experiencing difficulties which lead either to delays, or to changes in strategy following several years of study. In these areas, particular vigilance is required with regard to the key factors that are project management and the resources allocated to the performance of these operations.

With regard to the EPR, ASN stresses the fact that EDF still has a significant amount of work to do before fuel can be loaded into the reactor, in order to demonstrate compliance of the facility with its baseline safety requirements. Construction work and equipment manufacturing are experiencing numerous difficulties, mainly due to a loss of experience in the performance of major construction sites.

In the medical field:

ASN considers that the state of radiation protection remained stable in 2018, with the professionals on the whole giving satisfactory consideration to radiation protection, with the exception of fluoroscopy-guided interventional practices.

The number of significant radiation protection events (ESR) reported to ASN in 2018 rose on the whole, but these events - the vast majority of which are level 0 or 1 - have no expected clinical consequences.

The persistence in 2018 of radiotherapy events rated level 2 and which are recurrent in nature (dose error or laterality error for example), means that an in-depth analysis of their causes must be carried out and that prevention measures must be strengthened.

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For the medium and long term, ASN has three messages             

The importance of anticipation, for all nuclear stakeholders.

ASN recalls that time-frames in the nuclear industry are long and that if something is not initiated or demonstrated in the short term, it will not be operational in 10 years’ time. It thus encourages the stakeholders to anticipate whenever nuclear safety or radiation protection are at stake.

The crucial issue for nuclear safety is to maintain sufficient margins.

ASN considers that faced with potential hazards, faced with the ageing of facilities or the possible discovery of a hitherto unidentified fault, the licensees must make sure that they retain sufficient safety margins and do not seek to reduce them with a view to optimization or to justify maintaining the status-quo.

The necessary focus on the part of the nuclear sector on developing and maintaining the key industrial skills vital to the quality of the work done and the safety of the facilities.

Difficulties were encountered in 2018 in the performance of conventional industrial operations: they led to doubt regarding the ability of the sector to carry out the large-scale work involved in the continued operation of the existing facilities, decommissioning, or the construction of new reactors, with the required level of quality. ASN therefore calls for a collective and strategic refocussing by the industry on professional training and on industrial working skills.

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In this new edition, ASN also wished to highlight the assessment of the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection per licensee and per main field of activity

It also proposes a review of regulatory news and concise summaries of “notable events”:

  • Welds on main secondary systems of the Flamanville EPR reactor
  • 4th periodic safety review of the 900 MWe nuclear power reactors
  • Consistency of the nuclear fuel cycle
  • National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management plan

Finally, ASN made a “regional overview” of nuclear safety and radiation protection the core of its report, for easier consultation by geographical entry

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When the ASN report was presented to the OPECST, the exchanges with the members of Parliament more specifically concerned:

  • The deviations detected in the production of certain welds on the main steam transfer pipes of the Flamanville EPR.
    EDF envisages two possibilities: repair of the welds or abandoning break preclusion for them, which would imply adaptation of the reactor. ASN will issue a position statement in June 2019.
  • ASN’s financial resources, which are today under pressure.
    As recommended by the Court of Audit, in the light of the safety issues, ASN’s budget should be protected from annual budgetary regulation. ASN is also faced with a lack of personnel credits in its budget resources, which fails to take account of the hirings made in recent years. Finally, ASN asks for the creation of a specific budget programme for the regulation and oversight of nuclear safety and radiation protection, placed directly under the responsibility of the ASN Chairman. (link to budget opinion).
  • Changing regulation and oversight.
    With a constant volume of 1,800 inspections per year, ASN is focusing its inspections on those activities for which the risks are greatest. It is also strengthening its presence in the field. Finally, it is adapting its inspection methods, notably to take account of possible fraud situations.

  

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Contact: Evangelia Petit, Head of the Press Department, tel: (+33) 1 46 16 41 42 evangelia.petit@asn.fr

Date of last update : 21/05/2019