ASN issues its opinion on nuclear operators' cost assessments for decommissioning their basic nuclear installations and on their plans for securing the necessary funds
As requested by the Minister of Energy, ASN issued its opinion on the reports submitted by nuclear operators mid 2010, in accordance with Article 20 of Programme Act No. 2006-739 of 28 June 2006 on the sustainable management of radioactive materials and waste .
In ASN's opinion, it is essential for the funds required for decommissioning nuclear installations and managing radioactive waste to be both sufficient and available when needed.
The Authority observes that, on the whole, operators' strategies are consistent with ASN decommissioning policy. It examined the assessments carried out by operators to estimate the cost of decommissioning their basic nuclear installations and managing their radioactive waste. ASN also looked at nuclear operators' forecast schedules for decommissioning their installations and checked that their waste management plans were consistent with the French National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan.
The reports required under Article 20 of the above-mentioned Act and its amended Implementing Decree No. 2007-243 of 23 February 2007 on securing funding to cover nuclear costs describe:
- the methods used to assess the cost of decommissioning basic nuclear installations (and, in the case of radioactive waste repositories, closure, maintenance and monitoring costs) and managing spent fuel and radioactive waste,
- the methods employed to calculate the provisions set aside for these costs and the choices made regarding the composition and management of assets earmarked to cover the provisions.
Although it is fully aware that assessing decommissioning costs can be a difficult exercise, ASN believes that operators should, for the next update to their reports, perfect their assessment methods and further substantiate the assumptions on which they have based their assessments of decommissioning costs.
These reports are submitted to the Minister of Energy every three years. The next operator reports are due by 28 June 2012.
 Article 20 of Act No. 2006-739 of 28 June 2006 on the sustainable management of radioactive materials and waste is devoted to the financial resources required for decommissioning nuclear installations and managing radioactive waste. Under this article:
- operators of nuclear installations must make a careful assessment of the cost of decommissioning their nuclear installations and managing their spent fuel and radioactive waste;
- operators must set aside provisions for these costs and earmark the necessary assets exclusively for these provisions;
- operators must submit a three-yearly report to the administrative authority, containing a cost assessment and describing calculation methods and choices made concerning assets and their management; they must also submit an annual update to the report and immediately inform the authority of any significant event in this area;
- the administrative authority can order measures to be taken to rectify any situation that proves unsatisfactory;
- a national committee is set up to assess the funding of basic nuclear installation decommissioning and spent fuel and radioactive waste management. It also verifies that provisions are made to cover future costs and that assets are properly managed for this purpose. The committee must submit a report to Parliament and to HCTISN, the French high committee for transparency and information on nuclear safety.