France and the nuclear field
With its long experience in the design and long-term operation of a nuclear power fleet, France has unique skills in all nuclear fields and offers them to its partners, thus contributing to promote a responsible development of nuclear power.
Based on a strong institutional framework and on complementary industrial competencies, France intends to continue and strengthen its support to the IAEA, whose activities are essential to the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy under the best conditions of safety, security and non-proliferation.
This year, the IAEA chose the issue of radioactive waste management as the theme of its Scientific Forum. France, who conducts innovative projects in the field of 4th generation reactors and of deep geological disposal for High activity waste, intends to bring its expertise to that event dedicated to a key issue for a sustainable nuclear energy, acceptable for our populations.
The implementation of a nuclear energy programme requires the acquisition of a whole range of knowledge and skills at the highest level and a strong culture of nuclear safety and security.
For more than fifty years, France has been committed to promoting the responsible use of nuclear energy as part of its sustainable and consistent energy policy and contributing to the limitation of greenhouse gas emissions. Underpinned by the expertise of all the industrial and institutional actors from its nuclear sector, France offers its partners coordinated support for the establishment of the necessary infrastructure (education & training, outreach, nuclear energy policy, pre-feasibility studies, regulatory framework, waste management…), in order to help them develop a responsible and safe nuclear energy programme.
France promotes nuclear safety organisation which relies on responsible licensees, an independent Regulatory Authority, a science-based expertise capacity, a structured regulatory framework and true dialog with stakeholders. It actively contributes to the implementation of IAEA Plans on Nuclear Safety and Security and has been conducting a Support Program to IAEA Safeguards for 30 years.
In the context of the reinforcement of the nuclear safety international framework, France, in compliance with the actions taken by the IAEA, has launched an initiative focused on 4 priorities: improving transparency, promoting peer reviews, strengthening mechanisms for international assistance in the event of a nuclear accident, working towards establishing a global nuclear liability regime.
A fleet of 58 reactors, an integrated model with extensive experience feedback and continuous improvement policies allow France to have a unique nuclear expertise from which numerous countries benefit:
- design and construction of Generation III reactors meeting the highest standards of safety, security, for the whole lifetime of the installation, and built around a reactor portfolio including, at the forefront, the EPR reactor (1,650 MWe), and the ATMEA1 reactor (1,100 MWe);
- safe and efficient long-term operation of reactors;
- services to existing plants for operations, maintenance and outages, upgrades, and enhanced safety;
- mastery of the entire nuclear fuel cycle and associated services, from the extraction of uranium to recycling, dismantling and decommissioning, waste storage and disposal, contributing to sustainable security of supply and safe material management.
Thanks to its efficient and dynamic research, France is committed to the development of nuclear technologies for the future. International cooperation is considered as essential to design a new generation of reactors which will be safer, more resistant to proliferation, more competitive and with less longlived radioactive waste production.
France is leading studies on the ASTRID project, 4th generation SFR prototype and is part of the international ITER project. France is investigating the development of Small Modular Reactors, for example Flexblue, a subsea nuclear power plant.
France operates advanced experimental infrastructures on fuel cycle and reactors: LECA (Laboratory for Studies on Spent fuel), LECI (Laboratory for Studies on Irradiated Structures), Atalante and Jules Horowitz irradiation reactor under construction.
For more than ten years, France has participated actively, in close collaboration with the concerned European countries and with the United-States, to the development of new technologies of fuel for research reactors and of targets for the production of Mo99 requiring Low Enriched Uranium and providing the adequate technical and economic performances for high performance research reactors.
France supports IAEA for the development and promotion of nuclear applications in human health, agriculture and protection of the environment.
Examples of French assistance through expertise or financial contribution to IAEA activities:
- support to PACT Program for fight against cancer;
- hosting professionals and students from developing countries for long-term training by hospitals, laboratories and industries;
- caring for and treatment in France of victims of radiation accidents through unique techniques;
- support to research projects on infectious diseases [joint research Project IAEA-IRD on Reunion Island in the fight against mosquitoes transmitting malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya (CHIKV)] and on the protection of marine environment [contribution to the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC)].
For over half a century, France has developed a specific training system linked closely to the needs of the nuclear industry and its control, but also to research.
Combining academic and industrial initiatives, the system offers a broad range of courses covering all the jobs and skills the industry requires: technicians, engineers, researchers, legal specialists and managers for design, operations and innovation, safety control and life and environmental protection. Within the framework of cooperation initiatives, France shares this experience with partner countries wishing to develop their own nuclear power programme.
The industry’s main stakeholders (academic institutions, industrial manufacturers, research centres and agencies, and the relevant Government departments) have created a partnership responsible for coordinating the training offer in relation to the needs of the nuclear sector in France and worldwide.