Decommissioning of first-generation nuclear power plants: EDF called to a hearing by the ASN Commission
On 29th March 2016, the ASN commission called EDF to a hearing for the second time concerning its gas-cooled reactors (GCR) decommissioning strategy. These first generation reactors, which have been shut down for more than thirty years now, are located on the Saint-Laurent-des Eaux, Chinon and Bugey sites.
ASN wanted to hold this hearing with EDF to ensure that it was devoting sufficient resources to the decommissioning of these reactors, in compliance with the legislative requirements in force. ASN in particular wished to ensure that the decommissioning operations were being carried out as rapidly as possible and that the procedures described in the EDF decommissioning strategy were being followed.
During the course of this hearing, EDF informed ASN that it was adopting a new decommissioning strategy, significantly modifying the method and pace of decommissioning and the corresponding scenarios1. EDF also stated that it wished to finish complete decommissioning of one reactor before beginning the decommissioning of the others, in order to take advantage of the lessons learned during the process. On the other reactors, EDF stated that it will decommission all the installations peripheral to the reactors within the next fifteen years.
This new strategy means that the decommissioning of certain reactors will be pushed back by several decades with respect to the strategy announced by EDF in 2001 and updated in 2013.
The ASN Commission acknowledged receipt of this new strategy and asked EDF to make it public and provide a detailed justification for this change, while demonstrating compliance with the legislation concerning “decommissioning in as short a period as possible” of all its GCR reactors. ASN also asked EDF to present a detailed programme of works for the coming 15 years. Finally, ASN asked EDF to provide a safety guidelines file presenting the steps EDF intends to take to guarantee the safety of its installations until the completion of decommissioning. This analysis should be carried out taking account of the new decommissioning durations envisaged.
ASN will examine this new strategy once transmitted by EDF with all elements demonstrating compliance with the regulatory and safety provisions. ASN will be issuing prescriptions concerning the expected safety improvements and the important deadlines for the decommissioning programme in order to ensure that they are carried out in the conditions it has approved.
EDF informed ASN that within the coming weeks it will be presenting this new strategy to the local information committees concerned.
1. The dismantling scenario initially planned, using underwater techniques, has been abandoned in favour of GCR type reactor dismantling in air, accompanied by a change in the first-off reactor.