ASN authorises limited resumption of dismantling operations at the ATPu facility (Cadarache CEA)

Published on 03/11/2009 • 11:50 am

Information notice

On 3 November 2009, ASN (the French Nuclear Safety Authority) authorised the CEA to resume activity on 22 gloveboxes at the plutonium technology facility (ATPu) of the 220 which are still to be dismantled on the site.

Following the incident, announced on 6 October 2009 by the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), at basic nuclear installation 32, known as the Plutonium Technology Facility (ATPu), through decision No. 2009-DC-160 dated 14 October 2009, ASN suspended dismantling operations at stations in which fissile materials are handled. Through decision No. 2009-DC-0161 dated 19 October 2009, ASN laid down the conditions for resuming these operations.

In accordance with these suspension decisions, the CEA sent a technical file to ASN on 27 October 2009, in which it called for the resumption of an initial series of basic operations, including the removal of already packaged waste or the dismantling of already decontaminated gloveboxes. These operations are performed in gloveboxes containing a very low mass (less than or equal to 200 g) of fissile material.

IRSN (the French Institute for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection), the technical expert of ASN, issued its opinion on the safety of these operations on 29 October 2009. After analysis of the technical file provided by the operator, and based on IRSN opinion, ASN now considers that the safety of the operations in the 22 gloveboxes in question has been satisfactorily demonstrated. As a result, ASN authorised resumption of these operations on 3 November 2009.

The central services and the Marseilles division of ASN will make an announcement after receipt of technical files from the operator on the resumption of operations in the 198 other gloveboxes, particularly those which have a fissile material content greater than 200 g. For these gloveboxes, the operator should above all demonstrate the reliability of the evaluation of fissile material content.

Finally, ASN is continuing to deal with the incident reported by the CEA on 6 October. In particular, the operator must provide ASN, by 20 November 2009, with the evidence it asked for in its follow-up letter to the inspection on 6 October 2009.

  • See press release dated 16 October 2009 “Incident on the ATPu nuclear facility (Cadarache CEA site): ASN rates incident as level 2, draws up a report and suspends all dismantling operations”;

The ATPu is currently being dismantled. For 40 years, its main activity was the production of MOX fuel for nuclear reactors. The Decree of 6 March 2009 authorised the decommissioning and dismantling of the ATPu. Since that date, the owner has begun dismantling operations, with the aim of decommissioning the facility.

Date of last update : 08/06/2017