IAEA: action taken by France in support of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety
France, for both its own nuclear facilities and as part of its cooperation with third parties, places nuclear safety and its continuous improvement as a top priority and an essential condition for the responsible development of nuclear energy, without which the trust of the general public in nuclear energy could not be sustained.
France held the presidency of the G8 and G20 during the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and worked with its partners to provide emergency assistance to Japan, and for the nuclear community to take stock of the accident and learn lessons for the future. Its initiatives in the weeks following the accident (ministerial-level meeting and meetings of nuclear safety authorities in Paris, proposals for strengthening, under the aegis of the IAEA, international emergency preparedness and response mechanisms) made an effective contribution to the establishment and implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety implemented since September 2011.
The IAEA is responsible for the implementation of the action plan, as well as each of its Member States. France, as a signatory of the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, is committed to further fulfil all its responsibilities in the application of these agreements and the principles they set out, and to work with its partners to ensure the international safety framework is actually strengthened. France is also convinced that the highest levels of safety can only be reached and maintained if each operator and nuclear country assumes its full responsibility in this regard.
That is why a few days after the events on March 11, 2011 the French government requested that the country’s nuclear safety authority (ASN – Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire) immediately carry out complementary safety assessments for French nuclear facilities, to analyse their resistance to extreme situations such as those which led to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant; a similar process (stress tests) was set in motion at European Union level. French nuclear operators played a full role in these assessments, and on their own initiative proposed concrete measures to improve the safety in their facilities. Following these assessments, which were first conducted in facilities seen as a priority, the ASN concluded that safety levels in the assessed facilities were high enough to ensure none needed to be shut down immediately.
However, at the same time, it also concluded that the continued operation of some facilities required their robustness in the face of extreme situations to be improved as soon as possible, over and above the safety margins already in place. The feedback process from the Fukushima Daiichi accident will last several years, but the first provisions set out by the ASN in June 2012 have already been implemented by operators. A national action plan was published by ASN on 20 December 2012 to review the state of implementation in France of the recommendations resulting from the European stress-tests conducted in 2011 and, more generally, all the actions decided further to these assessments.
France has not restricted its actions to solely assessing its nuclear facilities. It plans to take action in various areas in which scope for improvement has been identified, either within its own borders, or in partnership with the IAEA, its Member States, and if necessary other relevant international organizations or groups. France has drafted a summary of the actions implemented, presented in the table below and structured according to the twelve areas identified in the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. In the field of nuclear safety, transparency is absolutely essential, and this approach has a contribution to make to achieving this goal. Nuclear safety is also a collective responsibility. For its part, France plans to continue working to improve nuclear safety and maintain it at the highest levels, throughout the world.
- French Action plan on Nuclear Safety
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