ASN has reservations about the communication of the European Commission
ASN notes the communication of the European Commission on Thursday October 4, 2012 on “stress tests” on nuclear power plants in Europe conducted after the Fukushima disaster claims to be based on the results published in the stress tests final report adopted on April 26, 2012. ASN regrets the working methodology used by the Commission for drawing its conclusions. These conclusions ignore some important recommendations of the stress-tests final report.
ASN emphasizes the quality of stress tests, which were requested by the Heads of State and government at the European Council on March 25, 2011. The stress tests were conducted from June 2011 to April 2012. This exercise mobilized considerable expertise in different countries (500 men-year) under the responsibility of each national Safety Authority. ASN participated significantly within the framework of ENSREG (European Regular Safety Nuclear Group) in collaboration with the European Commission.
The European Commission adopted, with ENSREG, the final stress tests Report on April 26, 2012 and issued the same day a joint statement underlining the quality of the exercise. The whole exercise was conducted using a transparent methodology.
The full report and a summary of the 45 recommendations are published on www.ensreg.eu.
The results of the stress tests pointed out, in particular, that nuclear power plants offered a sufficient safety level to require no shutdown of any of them. At the same time, improvements were needed to enhance their robustness to extreme situations. In France, they were imposed by ASN requirements, which have taken into account exchanges with its European counterparts.
After this joint work, ASN, like the other European Safety Authorities, was not involved after this joint work in the preparation of documents published by the Commission on 4 October. It had no knowledge of the methodology used or the entities and persons involved in this work. Beyond this, ASN has reservations about the conclusions of the European Commission which, for example, ignore some important recommendations of the final report of stress tests adopted on April 26, 2012,such as the consideration of multiple accidents on the same plant or the need of external means for rapid response in case of accident.
A Follow-up European action plan of recommendations of the stress tests was established in compliance with the ENSREG decision of July 25, 2012. National action plans are consequently being developed and will be followed by the responsible Safety Authorities. They call the Heads of State and Governments to confirm this action plan at the European Council on 18 and 19 October, 2012.
In France, the stress tests took the form of complementary safety assessments of nuclear facilities in the light of the Fukushima disaster. Compared to the European framework, the French exercise was extended to all nuclear facilities and to the field of human, organizational and social factors. Thus, the 80 priority facilities, including nuclear power plants, were examined in 2011 and had all undergone special inspections. For other installations, the operators have submitted their assessment reports on September 15, 2012 and are currently under review. All reports are available on www.asn.fr.
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