ASN Report 2022

emitters in all environmental matrices, between 10 and 20 of them are approved to measure carbon-14, transuranic elements or radionuclides of the natural chains of uranium and thorium in water, soil and sediments and the biological matrices (grass, plant crops or livestock, milk, aquatic fauna and flora, etc.). In 2022, ASN issued 139 approvals or approval renewals and decided that 2 approvals would be maintained. As at 1 January 2023, the total number of approved laboratories stood at 67, which represents 978 approvals of all types currently valid. The detailed list of approved laboratories and their scope of technical competence is available on 5. Inspections concerning fraud and processing of reported cases 5.1 Monitoring of fraud Since 2015, several cases of irregularities that could be considered to be falsifications have been brought to light at known manufacturers, suppliers or organisations who have been working for many years on behalf of the French nuclear industry. Confirmed cases of counterfeit or falsification have also been encountered in a number of other countries in recent years. The term of irregularity is employed by ASN to cover any intentional modification, alteration or omission of certain information or data. An irregularity detected by ASN can be dealt with by a judge in a case of criminal fraud. The number of confirmed or suspected cases only represents a very small proportion of the nuclear activities, but these cases show that neither the robustness of the monitoring and inspection chain, for which the manufacturers, suppliers and licensees have prime responsibility, nor the high level of quality required in the nuclear industry, have been able to totally rule out the risk of counterfeit, fraud and falsification. Not all of these cases were detected by the licensee’s monitoring process, which must now be more adequately tailored to the prevention, detection, analysis and processing of cases of fraud. In 2016, ASN began to look at adapting BNI inspection methods in an irregularity context. In so doing, it questioned other regulation and oversight administrations, its foreign counterparts and the licensees with regard to their practices, in order to learn the pertinent lessons. This particular risk led to changes in the ASN oversight methods, but it continues to be dealt with using the existing procedures. ASN also reminded the BNI licensees and the main manufacturers of nuclear equipment that an irregularity is a deviation as defined by the BNI Order. The requirements of the BNI Order therefore apply to the prevention, detection and processing of cases that can be considered to be fraud. More generally, the regulatory requirements concerning the safety and protection of persons against the risks related to ionising radiation also apply. For example, applying a signature to certify that an activity has been correctly carried out, whereas in reality it has not, could – depending on the circumstances – be a breach of the rules of organisation, technical inspection of activities, skills management, etc. In 2022, the search for irregularities comparable to falsifications during routine inspections in the nuclear facilities continued, with such verifications being incorporated into the usual practices of the inspectors, who are now able to use new internal tools. These inspections are of three types: ∙ inspections further to known subjects, resulting from irregularities discovered in other facilities, or to monitor the processing of a case previously detected; ∙ inspections including an in-depth search for proof in the performance of activities, for example with verification of the actual presence of a person who certified that they had carried out an activity on a given date; ∙ inspections with the purpose of raising awareness concerning the risks of fraud, notably during supplier inspections, where the risk of fraud in the subcontracting chain was dealt with. About forty inspections were carried out in this way in 2022, excluding the inspections which carried out verifications but with no discovery of suspicious cases and for which there is no traceability. They mainly take place on the nuclear sites and at the manufacturers of equipment intended for use there. Inspections devoted to this topic were also carried out in the head office departments of the main nuclear licensees. The cases detected are first of all dealt with as deviations from the regulatory requirements. They are also the subject of discussions with the site management and the head office departments of the licensees, so that preventive action can be taken. Depending on the potential implications of the deviation, a report or notification is sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, the question of data integrity, that is ensuring that they have not been modified or destroyed without authorisation, linked to the risk of fraud given that shortcomings in traceability can facilitate irregularities, is addressed frequently and forms the subject of requirements in certain inspection follow-up letters. The detection of irregularities or suspicious cases is still very much a topical issue, both for the licensees themselves, within the context of their monitoring and internal checks, and for the ASN inspectors. Several cases were reported to ASN in 2022 and are being followed-up and processed in close collaboration with the licensees and manufacturers. The most striking case in 2022 is the discovery of irregularities committed by the Japanese manufacturer JSW, first of all reported as only affecting the nonnuclear sector and then, following investigations by a special committee, also detected on equipment intended for the nuclear industry. In 2023, ASN will continue to monitor the handling of this case by the licensees concerned. ASN’s actions to prevent, detect and process fraud type irregularities are not limited just to the inspections. For example, ASN informs the main licensees and manufacturers of the cases detected and analyses their responses. It holds discussions with foreign safety regulators, through an international exchange channel that it actively helped to set up. 5.2 Processing of reported cases At the end of November 2018, ASN set up an on-line portal to enable anyone wishing to report irregularities potentially affecting the protection of persons and the environment, potentially a whistle-blower, to do so. By means of a system of pseudonyms for the reports received, ASN guarantees the confidentiality of anyone sending it a report. Only a request from a judicial authority could override this confidentiality, something which has not yet happened. It is however preferable for the person sending in the notification to leave their contact details so that ASN can: ∙ acknowledge receipt of the notification; 164 ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2022 • 03 • Regulation of nuclear activities and exposure to ionising radiation 03