ASN's 2011 report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France: "there is a before and an after Fukushima"

Published on 28/06/2012 • 09:00 am

Press release

ASN imposes large-scale safety reinforcement work on the licensees following the CSAs

Contrôle review #194

Today, 28th June 2012, ASN presented its 2011 Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France and also reviewed the follow-up to the Complementary Safety Assessments (CSAs) conducted on the nuclear facilities in the wake of the Fukushima-Daiichi accident.

2011, a year marked by the Fukushima-Daiichi accident. André-Claude Lacoste, the ASN Chairman, looked back at the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster: "this event reminds us that, despite all the precautions taken, an accident can never be ruled out". He considers that complete analysis of the feedback from the accident could take up to 10 years.

As of the spring of 2011, major measures were undertaken by ASN following the accident, in particular a campaign of targeted inspections and CSAs of the French civil nuclear facilities, with a view to improving safety.

This assessment approach was in response to a request from the French Prime Minister for a safety audit on French nuclear facilities and from the European Council (stress tests).

After publication of the conclusions of the CSAs on 3rd January 2012, ASN issued 32 resolutions on 26th June 2012, each setting about thirty additional requirements concerning EDF nuclear power plants, AREVA facilities and certain CEA reactors. The steps taken will lead to a significant increase in safety margins beyond their design basis.

These resolutions entail significant amounts of work for the licensees, including the deployment of human resources and expertise on a large scale. Some licensees have already started the work, which will take several years. For the more complex measures, with completion deadlines further into the future, the resolutions stipulate interim measures.

The licensees are in particular required to create a "hardened safety core". All the sites are thus required to set up a robust emergency organisation and premises able to withstand the occurrence of a large scale event affecting several facilities. For the EDF power plants, the "hardened safety core” must include "bunkerised" power supply systems which will have to be in place everywhere by 2018; additional emergency diesel generators will need to be installed by of the end of 2013.

For this "hardened safety core", all the licensees will have to submit a detailed file by 30th June 2012, presenting the equipment to be added and the corresponding completion dates. ASN will assess the technical content of these files, with the support of the IRSN, by early 2013.

The other measures in particular comprise:

for EDF:

  • the "Nuclear Rapid Intervention Force (FARN)", which will be able to intervene as of late 2012 and which should be fully operational by the end of 2014;
  • improved training of staff for response in the event of an earthquake or severe accident.

for AREVA:

  • at La Hague facilities, robust means for refilling the storage pools, to be submitted to ASN by 31st December 2012, along with operations to recover and repackage legacy waste still present on the site;
  • on the nuclear facilities of Eurodif, Socatri, TU5, GB II, Comurhex, effective means to reduce the consequences of an accidental leak of chlorine trifluoride (ClF3), hydrogen fluoride gas (HF) or uranium hexafluoride (UF6), to be submitted to ASN by AREVA before 31st December 2012.

for CEA:

  • no later than 31st December 2013, removal of the fissile materials from the MASURCA facility to a facility designed to withstand an earthquake, as the CEA has undertaken to do repeatedly;
  • facility improvements against the risk of flooding, or the control of sodium fires for the Phenix reactor, the risk of loss of coolant for the OSIRIS reactors, the risk of flooding, loss of cooling and seismic behaviour for the Jules Horowitz reactor.

To conclude, André-Claude Lacoste stated that the response to the Fukushima-Daiichi accident represented considerable work lasting several years, both for the licensees and for ASN and its technical support organisation, IRSN. This work demands significant investment in order to reinforce the safety of the nuclear facilities in France. ASN will be particularly vigilant in monitoring the implementation of all the requirements it has issued.

 

The other key points of the ASN 2011 Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France

L’année 2011 a été en France, comme les années précédentes, assez satisfaisante sur le plan de la sûreté nucléaire et de la radioprotection.

 Nuclear facilities in 2011

  • EDF nuclear power plants:
    • Of EDF's 19 nuclear power plants:
      • four sites stand out positively:
        • for the past 3 years, Penly with regard to nuclear safety,
        • for the past 3 years, Blayais and Golfech with regard to radiation protection,
        • Golfech with regard to environmental protection.
    • two sites however are under-performing:
      • Chinon in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection,
      • Saint-Alban in the field of nuclear safety and environmental protection, as has been the case for the past 3 years.
    • ASN considers that EDF needs to reinforce the in-service monitoring of nuclear pressure equipment in the light of the new regulatory requirements applicable.
    • In the field of radiation protection, ASN considers that the results on NPPs sites have improved.
  • The facilities of the AREVA group:
    • For the la Hague site, ASN considers that efforts need to be continued, in particular to take account of experience feedback and in the recovery of legacy waste. ASN recalls that it considers the legacy waste recovery and removal operations to be a priority which must be conducted in accordance with the specified time-frames.
    • For the Tricastin site, progress with the projects to refurbish or replace the facilities remains a major challenge.
  • The CEA facilities:
    The licensee regularly notifies ASN of its compliance with undertakings concerning actions identified as safety priorities. ASN considers that this approach, which was initiated 4 years ago by CEA, needs to be continued rigorously. ASN remains attentive to the progress of the operations to remove from storage waste and materials and to decommission the facilities concerned.

Small-scale nuclear activities in 2011

ASN considers that the gradual reinforcement of the safety of radiotherapy procedures that has been observed during the course of ASN inspections, year on year since 2007, must be continued in 2012 to further improve the radiation protection of patients.

In the field of medical imaging, following publication of two decisions in July 2011, ASN feels that improved management of the doses delivered to the patients in conventional radiology and computed tomography must be sought, along with improved radiation protection in interventional practices.

ASN will in particular remain attentive to the question of human resources and the corresponding skill levels, on the one hand to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Labour Code in operating theatres where radiology appliances are used and, on the other, to enable medical physicists to intervene in all areas of medical imaging, in particular computed tomography and interventional radiology.

in the field of medical physics, the efforts made since 2007 to boost medical physicist staffing levels in radiotherapy must be continued, so that the needs of medical imaging can also be met.

For further informations:

Schedules of works

Read the ASN's resolutions

AREVA

CEA

EDF

Press contact: Evangelia Petit, head of press department, tel. 01 40 19 86 61 evangelia.petit@asn.fr

Date of last update : 08/06/2017