The management of radioactive waste in France has been examined in depth under the auspices of the IAEA
From 15 to 24 January 2018, a delegation of 10 international experts working under the auspices of the IAEA examined the organisation of radioactive waste management in France. The experts met teams from the DGEC, ASN, the DGPR, IRSN, Andra, and the radioactive waste producers.
This international peer review was carried out within the framework of an ARTEMIS mission (Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation) organised by the IAEA department responsible for the themes of radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and post-operational clean-out, thereby enabling foreign experts to examine the French system on the basis of best practices.
France wanted to be assessed under an ambitious schedule. It is therefore the second European country to receive such a mission and meet the requirements of European Directive 2011/70/Euratom of 19 July 2011 (the "waste" directive) which requires that the programme of each country in the European Union be subject to a peer review to assess these themes.
More specifically, this peer review focused on the following subjects:
- the legislative, regulatory and organisational framework governing the management of radioactive waste;
- the French National Radioactive Material and Waste Management Plan (PNGMDR), which aims at implementing the policy for radioactive waste management and developing it within a pluralistic working group comprising, more specifically, environmental protection associations, representatives of elected officials and assessment and oversight authorities, alongside the waste producers and Andra;
- the national inventory of radioactive waste and the estimated future quantities of radioactive waste;
- the safety requirements of the facilities intended for the management of radioactive waste, and the provisions regarding the informing and participation of the public prior to their licensing, particularly for the Cigéo deep geological disposal project;
- the mechanisms for financing the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste;
- the measures taken to ensure and maintain a high level of competence and expertise within the organisations involved in radioactive waste management.
The auditors assessed the French radioactive waste management system with respect to the IAEA safety guides and technical recommendations, and the best international practices.
The conclusions of the team of auditors, chaired by Peter De Preter (Belgium), were presented to the various organisations audited under this review on Wednesday 24 January. After emphasising that France has established a framework for managing radioactive waste that covers all the issues and displays many strong points, particularly in terms of skills and its commitment to continuous progress, the auditors also put forward suggestions and highlighted good practices. These conclusions will be set out in a report that will be made public in the coming months.
The improvements suggested by the auditors shall be taken into account in the preparation of the next National Radioactive Material and Waste Management Plan. This plan will be subject to in-depth consultation with the stakeholders and the public.
These peer reviews enable the French radioactive waste management system to be enhanced thanks to the sharing of experience. They also foster the establishing of far-reaching, internationally-recognised common rules for radioactive waste management and the protection of persons and the environment.
Sébastien Lecornu, Secretary of State to the Minister of Ecological Transition, took the opportunity to visit the Orano facilities at La Hague and the Cigéo laboratory in the last few weeks. "The conclusions of the ARTEMIS mission conducted by the IAEA experts confirm the international recognition of the French nuclear waste management system."
The IAEA press release (in English):
 Directorate General for Energy and Climate, within the Ministry of the Ecological and Solidarity-based Transition.
 Directorate General for Risk Prevention, within the Ministry of the Ecological and Solidarity-based Transition.