ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2015

Published on 06/06/2016

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The ASN (Nuclear Safety Authority) Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2015.

This report is specified in Article L. 592-31 of the Environment Code.

It was submitted to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the Presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly, pursuant to the above-mentioned Article.

    

                   

   

On the whole, 2015 was satisfactory despite a worrying short-to-medium term context

2015 is similar to previous years: the nuclear safety and radiation protection situation is on the whole satisfactory. The operating safety of the nuclear installations has in particular been maintained at a good level, although radiation protection requires particular vigilance, especially in the medical field, with about ten level 2 incidents occurring in 2015. However, this positive evaluation for 2015 should be moderated as the context is a worrying one, with significant concerns for the future.

From left to right: Philippe CHAUMET-RIFFAUD - Commissioner ; Margot TIRMARCHE - Commissioner ; Jean-Jacques DUMONT - Commissioner ; Pierre-Franck CHEVET - President ; Philippe JAMET - Commissioner.

This view is based on three observations:

  • Safety and radiation protection challenges will grow over the period 2015-2020:
    • The possible continued operation of the 900 MWe reactors beyond their fourth periodic safety review is a key issue. The generic opinion from ASN on this subject will be issued no earlier than the end of 2018 after analysis of the studies yet to be produced by EDF.
    • The other main nuclear installations, in particular fuel cycle installations and research reactors, will need to undergo a periodic safety review during the same period. By the end of 2017, ASN will have to begin to process about fifty review files.
    • The improvements to the installations required following the Fukushima Daiichi accident must continue to be deployed, in particular for the fixed equipment of the “hardened safety core”, required to supplement the mobile resources already in place.
    • The projects or construction sites for new installations, EPR, Cigéo, RJH, ITER are behind schedule. Safety is not generally a factor, except for the Flamanville EPR vessel anomaly, which is being given special treatment. This anomaly was discovered belatedly, following requests made by ASN, rather than at the initiative of the industrial firms concerned. A check is therefore required on the items that were manufactured in the past.
  • The main industrial firms, Areva, CEA, EDF, who hold prime responsibility for the safety of their installations, are experiencing economic or financial difficulties. Wide-reaching reorganisations are in progress. Time will be needed for them to take full effect.
  • In 2016, ASN and the Institute for Radiation Protection andNuclear Safety (IRSN) did not obtain the additional human resources needed to meet these challenges. In these conditions, ASN will be giving priority to regulation of the installations in operation rather than the examination of new installations. A situation such as this is not however sustainable and ASN is once again asking for a review of its financing, to enable it to have appropriate resources able to meet its needs and those of IRSN.

This worrying context must encourage all stakeholders to exercise the greatest vigilance to ensure that safety remains a priority. For its part, ASN will be attentive to the technical and financial capacity of the industrial firms, as well as to ensuring that they maintain in-house skills that are vital for safety. It will also ensure that the necessary safety investments are made.

Date of last update : 06/07/2017