Spent nuclear fuel storage capacity: the ASN Commission called EDF and Orano to a hearing

Published on 30/03/2021 at 14:32

Information notice

On 11 February 2021, the ASN Commission called Mr. Lewandowski, Director of EDF’s nuclear and thermal power plant fleet (DPNT) and Mr. Knoche, CEO of Orano to a hearing. The hearing concerned EDF’s spent fuel management strategy, in which the Orano group’s installations play an essential role.

Noting that EDF will fail to meet the deadline set by the 4th National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan (PNGMDR) for the submission of an application for a license to create new storage capacity [1], the ASN commission called EDF to a hearing on 18 June 2020 so that it could present its strategy for increasing storage capacity, the contingency measures envisaged and the intended schedule.

During the June 2020 hearing, EDF confirmed that the commissioning of its centralised storage pool project was scheduled for 2034, even though its existing capacity could become saturated [2]by  2030. The ASN Commission thus wished to hear EDF and Orano so that they could present EDF’s strategy for dealing with this delay in the project, the measures envisaged and their implementation schedule, in order to guarantee safety.

During the hearing of 11 February 2021, EDF presented its forecasts regarding the volumes of spent fuels to be stored, the updated deployment schedule for a centralised storage pool, and the three countermeasures examined to deal with the delay in this project: greater use of MOX fuel in the reactors, densification of the storage pools at La Hague and dry storage of spent fuels.

EDF envisages locating the centralised storage pool at La Hague, on a site currently belonging to Orano. This project, as well as the three countermeasures studied, therefore involves Orano. Orano and EDF thus presented ASN with the way they would manage their interfaces. Orano also presented the technical challenges associated with these various projects, as well as the way in which it intends to manage the corresponding risks.

The ASN Commission reminded EDF of the strategic [3]nature of this centralised storage pool project for the overall safety of the nuclear installations. It urgently reminded EDF and Orano of the importance of advance planning and management of the countermeasures to be implemented. Their safety objectives shall notably be defined conservatively, taking account of requirements applicable to new facilities and of their envisaged implementation duration.

EDF stated that it had recently forwarded its project to the National Public Debates Commission and aims to file its creation authorisation application in 2022.

ASN considers that EDF must take all necessary steps to file its application at the earliest possible opportunity. When questioned by ASN on its technical capacity, at a time when considerable demands are being placed on its engineering capabilities, EDF restated its commitment to the construction of this storage pool and to allocating the engineering resources needed to complete this project within the announced time-frame.

To find out more

Published on 01/07/2020 at 17:42

Capacité d’entreposage des combustibles usés

Le collège de l’ASN a auditionné, le 18 juin 2020, M. Lewandowski, directeur du parc nucléaire et thermique (DPNT) d’EDF. L’audition a porté sur la stratégie d’EDF pour l’entreposage des combustibles usés issus de ses centrales nucléaires.

PNGMDR 2016-2018

Cette édition du plan a, pour la première fois, fait l’objet d’une évaluation environnementale et d’une consultation du public, permettant ainsi de donner une vision intégrée des enjeux associés à la gestion des matières et des déchets radioactifs.

[1] Article 10 of the Order of 23 February 2017 setting out the requirements of the National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan (PNGMDR), instructed EDF “to send ASN the technical and safety options for the creation of new storage capacity before 30 June 2017”.

[2] Information Notice: ASN issues its opinion on the overall consistency of the nuclear fuel cycle in France

[3] The ASN opinion of 8 October 2020 states that “the construction of additional spent fuel storage capacity is a strategic issue for the overall safety of the nuclear installations.” It specifies that “the centralised underwater storage pool project presented by EDF is the only one which is able to meet this challenge, in compliance with the most recent safety standards.”

Date of last update : 03/09/2021