Contrôle review No. 166 - Nuclear safety and radiation protection supervision

Published on 15/05/2005

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The 2002 institutional reform gathered within the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) nuclear safety and radiation protection supervision in France. ASN activities spread from the nuclear installation field to the local nuclear field, which includes research and medical activities.
ASN mission and staff have notably increased over the past few years. As an answer to this evolving background, I therefore got ASN to rethink its supervision philosophy and activities. In 2004, we formalized our main orientations and priorities, and planned our actions in a middle-term strategic plan “Making strides in nuclear safety and radiation protection”.

Publishing this dossier, my aim is to present the principles and the variety of issues linked to nuclear safety and radiation protection supervision, and the main strategic choices I made to use efficiently and effectively ASN supervision means.

The licensee is responsible for its nuclear activities. This applies to any field supervised by ASN: an operator is responsible for its nuclear facility; a therapist is responsible for its use of ionizing radiations.

ASN is responsible for nuclear safety and radiation protection supervision.

ASN must watch that its decisions perimeter does not jeopardize operator's responsibility: ASN is not to rule over everything but must act over the issues of highest safety value added, to use its means as effectively as possible.

ASN must use means adapted to each supervised field, its risks and stakes. This leads to the development of new supervision practices. For example, ASN uses recognized bodies to monitor standardized activities that do not necessitate its direct supervision. ASN works with learned societies to influence the development of safety culture and good practices within the medical field.

At last, ASN has to be itself evaluated and supervised by external bodies. The Parliamentary Office for Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Options (OPECST) supervise us; our foreign peers watch us, and I wished ASN, to be the object of an IRRT mission conducted by its peers under the leadership of IAEA by the beginning of 2007.

Though, guided by its values of stringency, compentence, independance and transparency, and mindful to the best use of its means to answer nuclear safety and radiation protection issues, ASN strives to be as effective as possible in accomplishing its duty.

André-Claude LACOSTE
Director of the French nuclear safety authority

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Date of last update : 18/01/2014