Annual report : Nuclear safety and radiation protection in 2008
The regulation of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France is a major issue. In order to carry out this regulation under optimum conditions, the Nuclear Transparency and Security Act (TSN) of 13 June 2006 introduced a new legal framework and established the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), an independent administrative authority.
ASN, run by a five-member commission, regulates the whole of the sector, acting in a completely impartial manner. The ASN Commission presents its report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2008, the second such report since the TSN Act came into force.
The mission of ASN, on behalf of the State, is to regulate nuclear safety and radiation protection in France, in order to protect workers, patients, the public and the environment from the hazards involved in nuclear activities and to contribute to informing the citizens.
The legitimacy and credibility of ASN are based first of all on its independence, defined by its statutes and embodied by the five member Commission: appointed for six years, they cannot be removed from office and receive
instructions from the government or any other institution. This legitimacy is also based on the other values embodied by ASN: the rigour that it demands of its staff as well as of those it regulates; the competence of its trained and qualified teams; transparency, with the tools that it has developed to listen to and communicate with all the stakeholders.
After more than two years of application of the TSN Act, ASN has naturally been guided by the principles defined by the Act, but perhaps more significant is its successful implementation of a new way of working with high added value. The Commission defines the policy of ASN. It adopts positions on fundamental issues. It holds periodic hearings with the directors of the major nuclear operators and meets persons working in the sector. It makes the major decisions and approves the penalty policy. It makes its decisions in a collegial manner, after discussion between the members to take account of all aspects of the issues. The ASN departments examine requests and draw upon the high-quality technical expertise of the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). This system provides a clear formal framework for the decisions for which ASN is responsible and allows it to make these decisions fully independently. However, independence does not mean isolation, and ASN is working to develop its relations with the stakeholders, for example through the local information committees (CLI) and the national association of local information committees (ANCLI). It considers that it has a duty to report: that is why it will present this 2008 annual report, like the previous annual report, to the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices (OPECST), a joint body of the National Assembly and the Senate. [...]