ASN presents its 2010 annual report to the French Parliamentary
ASN presented its report on nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2010 at a hearing of OPECST, the French Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technical Choices, on Wednesday 30 March 2011. The hearing provided an opportunity to pass on information to members of parliament and the press.
With nearly 2,000 inspections completed – 25% of which were unannounced – ASN considered that 2010 had proved quite satisfactory in terms of nuclear safety and radiation protection. Last year, ASN received 1,107 event reports, of which 140 concerned Level 1 events and three concerned Level 2 events.
Interventional radiology continues to be a subject of concern for ASN as far as small-scale nuclear activities are concerned. Doses to some parts of the patient's body can be high and radiation protection procedures for medical personnel are not always correctly observed.
ASN is also concerned about rising exposure to ionising radiation among patients in connection with medical treatment. This phenomenon has already been observed in several countries. The aim in France is to give preference to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines rather than scanners, which can administer doses of up to 20 mSv during certain whole-body examinations. Learned societies have produced a guide to good practice in medical imaging examinations as part of an awareness and training initiative for practitioners. If the doses administered to patients are to be effectively controlled, however, the number of MRI machines in the country must be doubled, in light of the growing number and increasingly specific indications of MRI examinations.
Regarding the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, André-Claude Lacoste declared that the top priority was for TEPCO to restore a continuous flow of fresh water to cool the fuel. This could take several weeks. He went on to say that the region concerned would remain contaminated for several years, if not decades. Since 2005, ASN has been conducting research into post-accident situations through CODIRPA, a steering committee set up for this purpose. Mr Lacoste emphasised the dramatic situation brought about by the combined impact of the earthquake and tsunami, which has complicated efforts to manage the situation and obtain information. ASN intends to draw all the lessons from the events at Fukushima.
France's earliest 900 MWe nuclear power plants have been - or will soon have been – in service for thirty years. The service life of the Tricastin 1 reactor was extended following its third ten-yearly outage. In this particular area, ASN follows a policy of case-by-case analysis. Service life extension approval does not rule out the possibility of subsequent in-service inspections. Plant safety is upgraded at every ten-yearly outage.
Lastly, André-Claude Lacoste pointed out that the debate as to whether EPR safety requirements might be too stringent was now simply out of touch with reality. He added that there was no guarantee that a severe accident could never occur in France.