Report on the State of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection in France in 2016.
In a worrying context, safety is on the whole maintained at a good level, radiation protection requires particular vigilance, especially in the medical sector.
ASN considers that in 2016, the operating safety of the BNIs was on the whole maintained at a good level, although radiation protection still requires particular vigilance, especially in the medical field, in which there were four level 2 incidents in 2016.
2016 was marked by the discovery of anomalies in the composition of the steel (excess carbon) of certain steam generators in 18 reactors in service. In the light of the inspection results, ASN was able to authorise restart of these reactors, subject to restrictions on their operating conditions.
The year was also marked by the performance of a historical review by Areva of manufacturing quality at the Creusot Forge plant. This review detected irregularities in manufacturing, more specifically suspected falsification of measurement or examination reports. In 2016, these irregularities led to the shutdown of Fessenheim reactor 2 and extension of the duration of the Gravelines reactor 5 outage.
The ASN assessment comes at a worrying time: the main firms concerned - Areva, CEA, EDF - who have prime responsibility for the safety of their facilities, are experiencing economic or financial difficulties. They are undergoing extensive reorganisation. The projects or construction work for new facilities - EPR, Cigeo, Jules Horowitz reactor, ITER – are falling behind schedule.
Moreover, major safety and radiation protection challenges are announced for the period 2017-2020:
Continued operation of old facilities.
Before the generic opinion is issued by ASN on the continued operation of the 900 MWe reactors beyond forty years, it will first of all be the subject of a public consultation. Periodic safety reviews of all of the 900 MWe reactors, which will lead to a public inquiry, will then run until 2030.The othermajor facilities, in particular those of the fuel cycle and research reactors, will also undergo a periodic safety review over the same period. By the end of 2017, ASN will have received about fifty files for this type of facility.
The post-Fukushima improvements.
These represent very large-scale work, in particular for the fixed equipment of the “hardened safety core”, which will supplement the mobile means already in place.
Commissioning of the EPR reactor.
EDF still needs to carry out significant work before start-up, to examine the serviceability of the nuclear pressure equipment and, more generally, to guarantee the performance of the safety systems. With regard to the reactor pressure vessel, ASN presented its position on 28th June 2017, following the analysis of the files transmitted by Areva NP and EDF - carried out by its nuclear pressure equipment department and its technical support organisation IRSN - and the opinion of its Advisory Committee for nuclear pressure equipment.
Major milestones for waste disposal.
It is intended that long-lived, high and intermediate level waste will eventually be disposed of in the Cigeo underground facility. In 2017, ASN will rule on the safety options for this repository, taking account of the conclusions of the peer review conducted under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the end of 2016. At the other end of the spectrum, the production of very low level waste will rise significantly with the future decommissioning of the current NPP fleet. ASN considers that a debate needs to be held on the conditions for management of these wastes.
Radiotherapy and interventional imaging:two priorities for radiation protection.
ASN maintains its inspection priorities in radiotherapy and interventional imaging. In these two fields, ASN will reinforce the preliminary assessment of risks, as a result of changes, both technological and organisational, and will focus in particular on the adequacy of the human resources allocated to these activities. In interventional imaging, optimisation of the doses received by the patients on the one hand and by the professionals, in particular with regard to the lens of the eye, on the other, remains the main objective.
The growth of new imaging techniques implies greater initial and continuing radiation protection training for the entire medical profession.
Faced with these challenges and despite the considerable reinforcement in the oversight framework in recent years, ASN is looking at ways of enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of its oversight – with an approach that is proportionate to the issues – both for the “small scale nuclear” sector and for the basic nuclear installations.
Key figures in 2016:
• 483 staff, nearly half of whom are in the 11 regional divisions"
• 294 inspectors spread around the regional divisions and the departments
• 82% management
• Total budget of about €165M, of which €85M is devoted to technical expertise 1,793 inspections of nuclear facilities, the transport of radioactive substances, the medical, industrial and research sectors, approved organisations
• 18,350 inspection follow-up letters published on the www.asn.fr website as at 31st December 2016.