ASN Report 2022

ORANO The facilities operated by Orano, on the La Hague, Tricastin and Marcoule sites, all have major safety implications, but of different types, both chemical and radiological. Despite the progress made in 2022 in terms of materials and waste management on the La Hague and Tricastin sites, and a wide-ranging action plan aiming to overcome both Melox production difficulties and the risks of saturation of radioactive materials storage capacity, ASN considers that there is very little room for manoeuvre in the operation of the “fuel cycle” and that this remains a point requiring particular attention. Once again ASN stresses the need for significant improvement in forward planning and in the quality of the files submitted, to allow calm preparation and on-time implementation of the provisions needed to prevent the risk of situations that block the cycle and the production of nuclear electricity. ASN also considers that Orano must undertake work to review the issues related to the ageing of all the facilities at La Hague, in terms of both safety and the robustness of the “cycle”, in order to produce a general review of the site and consolidate the prospects for operation of its various units in the medium and long term, up to and indeed beyond the 2040 time-frame. From this viewpoint, ASN sees as positive the good progress of the work to replace six evaporators in the La Hague plants in 2022. It will remain vigilant with regard to the correct performance of the operations to connect the first three evaporators in 2023, followed by their actual commissioning. Finally, in a geopolitical context marked in 2022 by the war in Ukraine, Orano has launched a project to significantly increase the production capacity of the Georges Besse II plant to separate uranium isotopes using the centrifuge process (BNI 168). In 2023, ASN will issue an opinion on the safety options selected by Orano. LONG TERM COSTS AND PROVISIONS FOR DECOMMISSIONING AND FOR WASTE MANAGEMENT In its opinion submitted to the General Directorate for Energy and Climate (DGEC) on Orano’s three-year report regarding the creation of financial provisions for decommissioning and waste management for the period 2022-2024, ASN considers that Orano’s decommissioning and spent fuels and radioactive waste management strategy is consistent with the safety and radiation protection requirements. However, improvements are needed if ASN is to be able to verify that the hypotheses adopted to justify the amount of the long-term costs are prudent. Orano shall in particular fine-tune the costs relating to the future postoperational clean-out of polluted soils on its sites and the longterm management of the waste resulting from this clean-out. THE SAFETY OF FACILITIES IN OPERATION ASN considers that La Hague’s management of the safety of its facilities is satisfactory. However, this site must make progress in complying with the deadlines in the regulatory requirements and with its undertakings. The La Hague site must also boost its vigilance with regard to the performance of periodic inspections and management of deviations. Finally, the measures designed to counter the effects of equipment ageing in the facilities, some of which is nearing an operating life of 40 years, or its replacement by new equipment, is still a major issue for its continued safe operation. Following the inspections it conducted in 2022, ASN considers that the level of safety of the Orano facilities on the Tricastin site is satisfactory. In 2022, the Tricastin site improved its organisation for analysing the conformity of the facilities with the regulations and made progress in its follow-up of the commitments made to ASN. With regard to the Melox plant, ASN considers that the level of safety is satisfactory in the field of fire risk management and satisfactory overall in the fields of operations and waste management. ASN also observes an improvement in the extent to which the regulatory baseline requirements in the field of pressure equipment are assimilated. Generally speaking, ASN considers that the organisation put into place by Orano for evaluation of the conformity of its facilities and for reassessment of their safety during the periodic safety reviews, is satisfactory. It finds that the licensee’s action plan for the periodic safety review of the uranium storage areas at Tricastin is very well followed. However, the La Hague site must reinforce its vigilance with respect to compliance with the deadlines in the regulatory requirements and the undertakings made, notably those made following the periodic safety reviews of the facilities. LEGACY WASTE RETRIEVAL AND CONDITIONING AND DECOMMISSIONING ON THE LA HAGUE SITE Large quantities of legacy waste at La Hague are not stored in accordance with current safety requirements and present major safety risks. This legacy Waste Retrieval and Conditioning (RCD) is a key step in the progress of decommissioning in the definitively shut down plants. With regard to the organisation and management of these complex projects, ASN regrets that, despite the progress made, such as the adoption of immediate dismantling objectives, the creation of the major projects department, the evaluation of the maturity of the projects, or the development of progress management tools, Orano has once again revised a number of waste retrieval and processing scenarios. In order to reinforce the transparency and legibility of these projects and of their main challenges for the coming years, ASN has set up an observatory for these projects (see chapter 13 on the full ASN report). ABSTRACTS – ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2022 21 ASN Assessments