ASN Report on the State of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection in France in 2023: a pivotal year marked by new nuclear ambitions

Published on 21/05/2024 at 10:57

Press release

On May 16, ASN presented its Report on the State of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection in France in 2023  to the parliamentarians of the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technical Choices (OPECST). On this occasion, ASN presented the subjects on which it was being particularly vigilant with regard to the new nuclear ambitions.

Presentation of the ASN Report on the State of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection in France in 2023 

ASN underlines that in 2023, the level of safety of the nuclear installations was satisfactory [1] with less pressure on the fuel cycle facilities than in 2022 and EDF’s implementation of a strategy considered by ASN to be appropriate for dealing with the stress corrosion phenomenon that had appeared on some of its reactors. Radiation protection performance remained at a good level despite an increase in level 2 significant events in the medical sector. This contrasting picture recalls the importance of radiotherapy risk assessments.

At a time of new nuclear ambitions, ASN underlines three subjects meriting particular attention:
  • The most ambitious perspectives on the part of the licensees, for the continued operation of the existing nuclear facilities, demand that the measures to be adopted without delay, in order to reach the new horizons envisaged under safe conditions, be identified. They also require that the forward planning for the long-term challenges for reactors be continued and reinforced, with a view to operation beyond 60 years, and for the new fuel cycle facilities envisaged, while clarifying the spent fuel reprocessing and storage possibilities identified.
  • The enthusiasm for innovative reactors (SMR/AMR) which have potentially promising intrinsic safety features, should not eclipse the technical, systemic and societal issues that they raise. These issues are notably linked to the preliminary work to be performed to demonstrate their reliability, to all the safety/security and non-proliferation issues to be incorporated upstream, to the development of an integrated approach for the supply of nuclear fuel and the management of spent fuels, for each of the innovative reactor technologies, and to the acceptability of the siting of these reactors outside dedicated nuclear sites.
  • The numerous new nuclear projects require an exceptional effort in terms of expertise, project management and industrial rigour, which impacts the entire sector. Despite the progress made in technical management and oversight of activities, the checks conducted by ASN along the procurement chain for the equipment intended for nuclear facilities is still bringing to light recurring shortfalls in industrial rigour. Over and above these shortfalls, against the backdrop of a significant increase in workload, combatting falsification and counterfeiting at all levels along the subcontracting chain must remain a major point for particular attention across the sector and encourage the ordering parties to develop systems for reporting deviations.

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The topical subjects

Continued operation of EDF’s nuclear reactors

ASN issued a position statement on the major technical points raised by the prospect of an operating lifetime of up to 60 years for the EDF nuclear fleet, and on the particular analyses or research to be conducted ahead of the periodic safety reviews, in order to envisage continued operation beyond 60 years.

The fuel cycle

The pressure identified in recent years on the “fuel cycle” eased up in 2023, in particular owing to improvements in production by the Melox plant.

This improvement and the prospects for a new multi-year energy programme (MEP) could lead to the time-frame for saturation of the Orano La Hague plant pools being reconsidered. However, ASN considers that it will still eventually be necessary to have further safe storage capacity based on current standards, with margins to deal with any contingencies affecting the facilities. In general, ASN considers that it is urgent to make the entire chain of fuel back-end facilities and management units more resilient, so that the 2040 target set in the current MEP can be reached under safe conditions.

Commissioning of the Flamanville EPR

In a resolution of 7 May 2024, ASN authorised commissioning of the Flamanville EPR reactor. This authorisation allows EDF to load nuclear fuel into the reactor and carry out start-up tests, followed by operation of the reactor.

ASN will be responsible for monitoring reactor start-up. Its approval will in particular be required before certain important steps.

New reactors

ASN has begun to examine the creation authorisation application for the EPR 2 reactors in Penly, and devoted considerable time and effort to the numerous small modular reactor and advanced modular reactor projects presented to it.

In both cases (EPR 2 et SMR), ASN has changed its organisation and its working methods to take account of the lessons learned from the examinations conducted in the past and in the light of the specific nature of the new stakeholders.

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ASN's assessments

ASN exercises its oversight role - in a manner that is complementary and tailored to each situation - using the regulatory framework, individual resolutions, inspections and, if necessary, enforcement measures and penalties. ASN reports on its duties and produces an assessment of the actions of each licensee, in each activity sector. During the year 2023, ASN carried out 1,790 inspections in the areas of nuclear safety and radiation protection.

Oversight of the EDF facilities

ASN considers that the quality of NPP operation remained at a satisfactory level in 2023. The year was marked by EDF’s adoption of a strategy considered by ASN to be appropriate for dealing with the stress corrosion phenomenon that had appeared on some of its reactors.

Oversight of the Orano facilities

In 2023, the fuel cycle facilities were under less pressure than in 2022.  The ORANO action plan designed to overcome the production difficulties being experienced by the Melox plant allowed a significant improvement in the quantities of MOX produced and a reduction in the amount of scrap generated. These factors helped stabilise the working of the “fuel cycle”. However, ASN considers that it will still eventually be necessary to have further spent fuel storage capacity meeting current standards, with margins to deal with any contingencies affecting the facilities.

Oversight of the CEA facilities

ASN considers that the level of safety remains under control in 2023 but that the results of the decommissioning and legacy waste retrieval and conditioning projects for the historical facilities still differ significantly and remain exposed to major contingencies. Despite the gradual reinforcement of the oversight practices by CEA, progress on these projects remains limited by the resources available and by the operational capacity of the contractors in the sector.

Oversight of Andra's facilities

For ANDRA, whose facilities maintained a satisfactory level of safety, radiation protection and environmental protection, 2023 was marked by the start of the examination of the creation authorisation application for the Cigeo deep geological repository, submitted on 16 January 2023.

ASN assessments concerning the medical sector:

Radiation protection culture in the medical field must be improved.

The state of radiation protection in the medical field is satisfactory, but shortcomings persist, notably in the field of fluoroscopy-guided interventional practices (FGIP), which led ASN to apply enforcement measures with serving of formal notice regarding radiation protection training of the personnel and work to bring the premises into conformity. Whatever its level of maturity, radiation protection culture must be kept alive, so that the errors of the past are not forgotten. An unprecedented number of radiotherapy targeting errors, in particular wrong-side errors, was thus reported in 2023, with the trend continuing in 2024.

Particular attention is given to the weak signals observed in a general context characterised by a lack of resources, sometimes financial, but above all human. ASN also notes an increase in the reporting of internal conflict situations, through inspections and via the whistle-blower alert reporting system.

ASN draws the decision-makers’ attention to the need to assess the impact of these changes on the organisations and on the work of the participants and to precisely define the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved. Greater emphasis must be placed on the accountability of all the stakeholders, so that radiation protection culture can be maintained and developed.

For further information (in french):

The Abstracts of the ASN Report on the State of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection in France in 2023 will be available at the end of June 2024

Published on 16/05/2024

La sûreté nucléaire et la radioprotection en France en 2023

Le niveau de sûreté des installations nucléaires a été satisfaisant en 2023 avec une moindre tension sur les installations du cycle du combustible qu’en 2022 et la mise en œuvre par EDF d’une stratégie jugée appropriée par l’ASN pour faire face et traiter le phénomène de corrosion sous contrainte apparu sur certains de ses réacteurs. Les performances en matière de radioprotection se sont maintenues à un bon niveau malgré une augmentation, dans le secteur médical, d’événements significatifs de niveau 2. Cette situation contrastée conduit à rappeler l’importance des analyses de risques en radiothérapie.

Rapport de l'ASN sur la sûreté nucléaire et la radioprotection en 2023 (OPECST)

L’Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN) a présenté le 16 mai aux parlementaires de l’Office parlementaire d’évaluation des choix scientifiques et technologiques (OPECST), son rapport sur l’état de la sûreté nucléaire et de la radioprotection en France en 2023 . À cette occasion, l’ASN a présenté ses sujets d’attention face aux nouvelles ambitions en matière nucléaire.

About ASN

ASN is the independent administrative authority responsible for regulating civil nuclear activities in France.

Its duties hinge around four themes:

  • Regulation: ASN helps with the drafting of regulations, by submitting its opinion to the Government on draft decrees and ministerial orders, or by issuing ASN resolutions on technical matters. It ensures that the regulations are clear, accessible and proportionate to the issues.
  • Licensing: ASN examines all individual license applications for nuclear facilities.  It can grant all licenses and authorisations, with the exception of major authorisations for Basic Nuclear Installations (BNIs), such as creation and decommissioning authorisations. ASN also issues the licenses provided for in the Public Health Code concerning small-scale nuclear activities and issues licenses or approvals for radioactive substance transport operations;
  • verification: ASN checks compliance with the rules and requirements applicable to civil nuclear activities and facilities in France (nuclear power plants, hospital and industrial facilities using ionising radiation, research laboratories, radioactive substance transport operations, nuclear waste facilities). ASN has graded enforcement powers;
  • Informing the public: ASN informs the public and the stakeholders (environmental protection associations, local information committees, media, etc.) about its activities and the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France. It enables any citizen to take part in the preparation of its resolutions that have an impact on the environment. It supports the actions of the Local Information Committees set up around the nuclear installations.

In emergency situations, ASN assists the government by sending the competent authorities its recommendations regarding the medical, public health or civil security measures to be taken. ASN informs the public and its foreign counterparts of the situation.


[1] The number of level 1 and 2 significant events in nuclear installations rated on the INES scale has been regularly falling for the past 5 years (88 events reported in 2023, 97 in 2022, 104 in 2021, 107 in 2020, 115 in 2019). Two level 2 events were reported in 2023 in the installations (detection of a large stress corrosion crack on the Penly NPP reactor 1; external contamination of a worker in the Cattenom NPP with the annual regulation limit for the equivalent dose received being exceeded).

Press contact :
Evangelia Petit, head of the ASN press department: +33 1 46 16 41 42 -

Date of last update : 21/05/2024