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Nuclear research facilities and various nuclear installations


Chapter 14

  1. Atomic energy commission (CEA) installations
    1. Generic subjects
      1. Management of nuclear safety and radiation protection at CEA
      2. Monitoring of CEA's compliance with its main nuclear safety and radiation protection commitments
      3. Internal authorisations
      4. Periodic safety reviews
      5. Monitoring of sub-criticality
      6. Management of sealed sources of ionising radiations
      7. Revision of water intake and discharge licences
      8. Assessment of seismic risk
      9. Management of civil engineering projects
      10. Research reactor cores and experimental systems
    2. Topical events in CEA research facilities
      1. CEA centres
      2. Research reactors
      3. Laboratories
      4. Fissile material stores
      5. The poséidon irradiator (saclay)
      6. Effluent and waste treatment facilities
      7. Installations undergoing decommissioning
  2. Non-CEA nuclear research installations
    1. National large heavy ion accelerator (ganil)
    2. Laue-langevin institute high flux reactor
    3. European organization for nuclear research (cern) installations
    4. The ITER (international thermonuclear experimental reactor) project
  3. Irradiation facilities, maintenance facilities and other nuclear installations
    1. Industrial irradiation facilities
    2. The radiopharmaceuticals production facility operated by cis bio international
    3. Maintenance facilities
    4. Chinon irradiated material facility (ami)
    5. Inter-regional fuel warehouses (mir)
    6. Centraco waste incineration and melting facility
  4. Outlook

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The research and other installations regulated by ASN differ widely but are usually small in size. ASN concentrates on regulating the safety and radiation protection of these installations as a whole and on comparing practices per type of installation in order to choose the best ones and thus encourage operating experience feedback. These installations include experimental reactors, hot laboratories, accelerators and irradiators, as well as research support installations (material and waste warehouses, effluent treatment facilities, etc.). In addition to CEA, there is a large number of licensees, each operating a small number of installations.

In 2007, ASN noted with satisfaction that CEA had presented it with a tool allowing the highest-level management of the decisions concerning both the upgrading of older installations and the new projects, thus guaranteeing greater transparency and visibility for ASN with regard to the processes liable to delay complex projects with high nuclear safety and radiation protection stakes. This concerned about twenty major commitments, enabling priority focus to be given to those areas where the risk is greatest. In 2008, budgetary concerns led CEA to request the postponement of certain milestones. ASN considers that by offering protection for a limited number of high-stakes project, the "major commitments" approach, which is officially checked by CEA every six months, aims precisely to avoid the postponement of commitments for reasons other than justified technical contingencies. It is important that CEA devote the budgetary and human resources to the correct performance of these "major commitments". It hopes that this approach will be a virtuous self-reinforcing one, which implies its rigorous implementation. This is why in 2009, ASN asked CEA to continue with this approach, which should lead to improved project management.

Furthermore, as a result of concerns expressed by ASN, CEA has initiated a process to control operations relating to civil engineering on its BNIs and criticality in these same installations. In 2010, ASN will continue to focus on management of the civil engineering operations on the construction sites for new installations and on renovation work for existing installations. With regard to the criticality risk, ASN noted that CEA has initiated a process to remove unused sources, in particular neutron sources, and to check the conformity of its installations with their safety requirements. In 2009, CEA thus brought to light discrepancies in the management of fissile materials, leading to the notification of significant events. In 2010, ASN will be particularly attentive to the continuation of this process and to the corrective measures proposed by CEA.

At the request of ASN, ten years after the last review on this topic, CEA submitted a report on the management of safety and radiation protection at CEA. ASN will adopt a stance on this report in 2010, based on a review by the Advisory Committees for laboratories and plants and for reactors. This review will in particular look at skills management, the role of the various players at CEA and, in particular, the powers and independence of the General and Nuclear Inspection Division, and the management of safety and radiation protection in the projects.

Aspects linked to safety management by subcontractors will be looked at especially closely, as ASN attaches great importance to:

  • clarification of the interfaces between CEA and its subcontractors;

  • management and monitoring by CEA of its subcontractors;

  • reinforcing the safety culture of subcontractors.

CEA will also be required to analyse the problems observed in its management of the ATPu incident notified on 6 October 2009 and the necessary lessons will have to be learned.

In 2010, ASN will continue its field inspections of CEA's internal authorisations system. This monitoring will concern the process as a whole, the justification of compliance with the criteria for implementation of the decision formally approving the system proposed by CEA, but also a check on the level of independence, within CEA, between the applicants, the support services and the first and second level inspectors.

Finally, ASN will in 2010 be continuing to take steps to promote international harmonisation on the safety of research reactors, particularly within the European WENRA framework.

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