Statement of ASN Commission: "Which level of safety for new nuclear reactors built around the world? "
Taking into account renewed plans to build nuclear reactors worldwide, the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA), bringing together the 17 Heads of the nuclear safety Authorities of Western Europe, is working on harmonization of safety objectives for new nuclear reactors . This association has just proposed safety objectives for new nuclear power reactors built in Europe.
Objectives set by WENRA are fully consistent with those established by ASN for new reactors to be built in France, such as the EPR.
The safety objectives for these new reactors were jointly defined by ASN and the German Safety Authority in 1993. ASN is aiming at continuously improving nuclear safety taking into account technological progress. In 2003, the Director General of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection declared to the French Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technical Options (OPECST), "It is obvious that we expect more ambitious safety requirements for the EPR reactor as compared to the previous reactor generation. I can specify it in a more direct manner: we would not allow the construction of a N4 reactor any more." N4 reactors are the most recent nuclear reactors that were built in France, at Chooz and Civaux.
The safety objectives set by ASN for new nuclear reactors, such as EPR, accounted for the lessons learnt from the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, events which showed that severe accidents are not just a theoretical hypothesis.
These safety goals include, in particular with respect to reactors in operation:
- Reducing the risk of accidents that may result in core meltdown
- In case of core meltdown, reducing radioactive releases to the environment, leading in particular to the presence of a corium catcher in the EPR.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, the objective of resistance to large aircraft crashes has been strengthened.
One of the major ASN concerns is to achieve harmonization based on the best nuclear safety and radiation protection levels worldwide. We do not want a “two-speed” safety and we continue to promote at European and international levels safety objectives that take into account the lessons learnt from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and September 11, 2001 events. In the event of proposals to export nuclear reactors which do not meet these safety objectives, ASN will not hesitate to declare that such reactors could not be built in France.
The ASN Commission,
André-Claude LACOSTE - Marie-Pierre COMETS - Jean-Rémi GOUZE - Michel BOURGUIGNON - Marc SANSON