SureDyna’s position on the French reform of nuclear safety expertise and control

SureDyna helps all nuclear actors worldwide to improve safety through consulting, studies, engineering, R&D, and training.

To this end, SureDyna adapts to the institutional control and expertise of nuclear safety, whatever their organization.

However, because of its advisory role, the fact that this organization touches the core of its activity in France, and questions of organization of nuclear safety control and expertise arise in all countries involved in nuclear energy, SureDyna must clarify its position in this respect.

At the beginning of February 2023, the French government wished to modify the organization of French nuclear safety public expertise and control, by merging the ASN (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire: Nuclear Safety Authority, the French regulator), and the IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire: Institute for Radiation protection and Nuclear Safety, the French Technical Safety Organization).

Few details were given on the reasons for this decision: to allow faster and smoother examination of authorization requests, for the construction of the future EPR2.

The details of this reform have not been given at this stage either but are expected to be specified in the following weeks by the president of the ASN, the general director of the IRSN, and the general administrator of the CEA (Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique: French Atomic Energy Commission).

At the time of writing this post (March 23, 2023), this reform proposal has been rejected on first reading by the French National Assembly.

Such a reform would bring the organization of nuclear safety public control and expertise in France closer to that of the United States with the NRC.

SureDyna is not opposed to the adaptation of the organization of nuclear safety expertise and control.

Indeed, several organizations allow good expertise and good control of nuclear safety: this is the case of the NRC. This was also the case for the French organization until the beginning of the 2000s decade when the DSIN (Direction de la sûreté des installations nucléaires: Directorate of Nuclear Installation Safety) controlled nuclear safety by relying on the IPSN (Institut de protection et de sûreté nucléaire: Institute for Nuclear Protection and Safety of the CEA).

The French organization was updated with the creation of IRSN and ASN to adapt to the requirements of expertise and control. This adaptation could continue under good conditions with the ASN, IRSN and CEA managers.

However, according to SureDyna, there is no precise enough definition of the objective of the adaptation under decision.

Before deciding on a large-scale reorganization, it would be necessary to clarify the following points:

 – In what way would the control and expertise process be too cumbersome, and should it be made more fluid?

 – What are the possibilities of optimizing this process compared to the current situation?

In this way, it should be made clear where the current system could and should be improved.

Then, it should be determined whether these necessary improvements should be made through a large-scale reorganization or through a lighter adaptation of the current system.

In our experience, this assessment depends on the subject matter: it must be detailed and precise.

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