Nuclear safety serves the general interest: ASN rigorously and responsibly fulfils its monitoring duties
On the occasion of the New Year, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), through its president, Mr André-Claude Lacoste, presented his best wishes to the press on 11 January.
Speaking before twenty journalists from the national and international press, Mr André-Claude Lacoste discussed ASN, its development, its relationships with international counterparts, as well as strategic priorities for 2011.
He stressed the following points in particular:
- ASN, responsible for monitoring civilian nuclear activities in France, is an independent administrative authority. It has developed an expanded concept of nuclear safety and radiation protection by considering the technical and material aspects of the fields and activities that it monitors as well as organisational and human elements.
Its area of competence has expanded over the years. Since 2002, it has progressively implemented an organised system of inspection of “local” nuclear activities.
In an effort to be more effective, ASN proposed to the government in 2008 that it be designated as the competent authority for the safety of radioactive sources on the condition that it receive the necessary resources and authority to apply its transparency rules to keep the public informed.
- ASN remains independent with regard to the government and operators. It is thus free to exercise its responsibilities involving authorisation, inspection and sanction in the most impartial manner possible. ASN has an “accountability” policy that it applies by presenting its annual report to Parliament on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France.
ASN favours access to information and compliance with the principles of transparency stated in the Transparency and Nuclear Safety (TSN) Act. With its actions, ASN furthers knowledge and public debate (by publishing information reports and all post-inspection letters, and by consulting the public).
- ASN has an active policy of international cooperation. It considers that “nuclear safety should not be subject to competition, but serve the general interest”. In particular, it is investing in the building of a European hub for nuclear safety and radiation protection authorities. The Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association (Wenra), Heads of the European Radiological protection Competent Authorities (Herca), preparation of the European nuclear safety directive, the draft directive on nuclear waste and spent fuel management, as well as the planned European Nuclear Safety Conference in Brussels on 28-29 June 2011, illustrate how the landscape in the field has changed. The ASN president has stated support for a “harmonisation effort” on the European level and opposition to “uniform” safety rules.
- With regard to optimisation of patient doses, Mr Lacoste has highlighted the tendency to increase doses received by patients during medical imaging examinations. ASN believes that preparation and implementation of a national action plan is urgently needed to control the increase in doses delivered.
- ASN's monitoring of nuclear safety and radiation protection is part of a continuous improvement approach. The skill and involvement of its staff are essential for the ASN to fulfil its role and assume its responsibilities rigorously, effectively and independently.
On 30 March 2010, ASN will present its report “Nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2010” during a hearing that is open to the press and organised by the French Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices (OPECST).