ASN authorises limited continued operation of the EOLE and MINERVE experimental reactors until 2019, provided that the installations undergo seismic reinforcements
ASN analysed the report presenting the conclusions of the second periodic safety review of basic nuclear installations (BNI) 42 and 95, named EOLE and MINERVE, two critical mock-up type experimental reactors operated by CEA and situated in the same building of the Cadarache centre (Bouches-du-Rhône département).
The purpose of the periodic safety review is to conduct an in-depth examination of the facilities, to check that they are in conformity with the applicable baseline safety requirements (conformity check). Its aim is also to improve the level of safety in the facilities. The requirements applicable to the facilities are therefore compared with those to be met by the most recent installations (safety reassessment). Changing knowledge and national and international operating experience feedback are also taken into account. The improvements which can be reasonably adopted are made. The periodic safety review is also a means of checking that the various ageing phenomena affecting the facilities will be managed for a minimum further period of ten years. The periodic safety reviews are one of the cornerstones of nuclear safety in France, requiring that the licensee not only maintain the level of safety of its facility, but also improve it.
ASN considers that the examination of the second periodic safety review revealed a situation that was on the whole satisfactory for the majority of risks. However, the review confirmed the vulnerability of the facilities to the seismic risk.
CEA indicated that it had decided to shut down the reactors in 2019 as well as to remove fuels with no further use from storage and carry out reinforcement work.
In its resolution of 30th October 2014, ASN made the continued operation of these facilities dependent on the performance of reinforcement work within the specified time-frames and on removal of fuels with no further use from storage.
ASN sent CEA confirmation that any operation of the facilities beyond 2019 could only be envisaged with more extensive reinforcement of the facility against a safe shutdown earthquake.