ASN issues its opinion on the safety options dossier for the planned centralised spent fuel storage pool
The nuclear power reactors, which produce more than 70% of France's electricity, need to be able to send their spent fuels to a storage location. In 2011, ASN drew EDF’s attention to the probable saturation of storage capacities for these spent fuels and, in its opinion of 18 October 2018 on the consistency of the nuclear fuel cycle in France, ASN made a number of requests for dealing with this.
The National plan on management of radioactive materials and waste (PNGMDR) 2016-2018 underlined the fact that this saturation could occur between 2025 and 2035. The Order of 23 February 2017 setting out the requirements of the PNGMDR, therefore urged EDF to send ASN the technical safety options regarding the creation of new spent fuel storage capacity. In response to this demand, EDF asked ASN in April 2017 for its opinion on the safety options for a spent fuels centralised storage pool project.
The facility envisaged by EDF is a pool designed to store 10,000 tonnes of heavy metal  (tHM), corresponding to about 21,000 fuel assemblies. It would consist of two storage pools, of identical capacity and design, which would be gradually commissioned over a period of time.
ASN examined this file and, in this context, asked IRSN for its expert assessment and obtained the opinion of the Advisory Committee for laboratories and plants (GPU). Following this technical examination phase, ASN consulted the public about its draft opinion from 16 May to 5 June 2019. After analysis of the contributions received, ASN issued its opinion on 23 July 2019. This opinion takes account of the public’s observations.
ASN considers that the general safety objectives and the design options adopted are on the whole satisfactory. Additional studies and demonstrations are however required, notably concerning the design and the control of manufacturing, in order to guarantee the long-term leaktightness of the pool.
At this stage, EDF has not selected a site for the facility. Once the site has been selected, EDF will need to check that the external hazard levels chosen are appropriate.
ASN is also sending EDF a letter specifying the satisfactory safety options and the additional studies and demonstrations needed for the creation authorisation application.
To find out more (in French):
- ASN opinion 2019-AV-0331 of 23 July 2019 on the safety options dossier presented by EDF
for the planned spent fuel centralised storage pool
- Consult the ASN letter and its appendices
 The tonnage of heavy metal corresponds to the mass of nuclear fuel before burn-up without its structures and without the oxygen with which it is associated.