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ASN benefits from the expertise of external scientific and technical support agencies such as the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) or standing committees of experts when it is preparing to make decisions. Similarly, as part of its inspection task, ASN can call upon approved bodies that are also involved in monitoring nuclear safety or radiation protection.
ASN contributes to the process of drawing up regulations by giving its opinion to the French government on draft decrees and draft ministerial orders or by making regulatory decisions of a technical nature.
To make its decisions, ASN usually draws on external technical expertise, particularly that of IRSN, which is currently ASN’s main technical support agency (average of 700 expert opinions rendered each year).
For the past few years ASN has also been attempting to diversify its subcontractors, both national and international. It therefore outsources expert assessment work on specific topics to other bodies with recognised expertise. These include public institutions (the Scientific and Technical Centre for Building - CSTB), private engineering offices (Apave, Bureau Veritas, the Centre for Quality Assurance of Technological Applications in the Medical Field - CAATS, the Nuclear Protection Assessment Study Centre - CEPN), associations committed to protecting human health and the environment (e.g. Robin de Bois association), or expert groups such as the Limousin mines’ joint expert group (GEP Limousin).
When preparing to make decisions, ASN also seeks the opinions and recommendations of seven standing committees of experts co-opted to ASN, all with diverse scientific and technical backgrounds. These standing committees, each one focusing on a specific topic, are made up of experts appointed on the strength of their expertise. They come from universities, associations and auditing bodies, but also include operators with an interest in the subjects covered. Each standing committee can also call upon anyone (in France or abroad) recognised as having particular expertise.
ASN is responsible for verifying compliance with the rules and requirements to which the facilities or activities it monitors are subject. It thus ensures that all users of ionising radiation, all operators of nuclear facilities and all shippers of radioactive materials fully discharge their responsibility and obligations as regards radiation protection and nuclear safety.
To carry out some inspections, ASN relies on approved bodies that are also involved in monitoring nuclear safety or radiation protection, particularly when pressurised equipment specially designed for nuclear facilities needs to be checked. The same applies for technical inspections of sources and devices emitting ionising radiation, protection and alarm systems, and measuring instruments, as well as for monitoring the radiological atmosphere of workplaces and checking the procedures for managing radioactive sources, radioactive waste and radioactive effluents.
The conditions for issuing certification are very clearly defined. In particular, the approved bodies are required to operate under very strict technical, organisational and ethical conditions and compliance is frequently checked.