ASN Report 2022

Finally, the level of safety to be set in the context of the strong call for international harmonisation is a subject of debate. For ASN, the level to be adopted should not simply aim to equal that of the existing generation 3 reactors (Evolutionary Power Reactors – EPR – in France) but should exploit the potential for improvement offered by this type of reactor. In 2022, ASN continued its discussions with several French companies developing SMR projects involving different technologies. At the initiative of ASN, the French, Finnish and Czech regulators and their respective technical support organisations, initiated a preliminary examination of the main safety options of the Nuward project sponsored by EDF. The conclusions of their joint evaluation will be shared with the European safety authorities under the Community SMR development initiative launched by the European Union in 2021. For ASN, this type of concrete initiative on sufficiently mature reactor designs constitutes a crucial step towards greater convergence of safety requirements for SMR. Vulnerabilities in the “fuel cycle” facilities which remain a concern for ASN The vulnerabilities found in 2021 in the “fuel cycle” facilities remain a concern for ASN despite the progress observed. The operators must continue their actions to enhance the operational robustness of their units, each being often unique in the “fuel cycle” process. In the light of this situation, ASN recalls the importance of rapidly obtaining new spent fuel storage capacity meeting the most recent safety standards, in order to address the problem of saturation of the existing capacities. Over the long term, the densification of the existing pools could not be considered an alternative to the centralised storage pool project presented by EDF. Generally speaking, spent fuel management raises questions of short-, medium- and long-term forward planning, each of which has major safety implications. ASN reaffirms that, in the short term, the question of whether or not to continue with the existing reprocessing strategy must be settled so that there are sufficient margins for safety with respect to the choice to be made. Whatever the decision taken, the consequences will have to be anticipated at least a decade in advance. This decision should be preceded by a strategic review on the future of the “fuel cycle” as a whole. In this respect, ASN suggests that a pluralistic review be undertaken of the possible futures of the “fuel cycle” and the corresponding waste, similar to that performed by the Réseau de transport d’électricité (RTE) grid utility on future energy scenarios in their “Energy Pathways 2050 study”. Decommissioning and waste retrieval and conditioning operations which must be more transparent Decommissioning is a complex operation which generally takes several decades. ASN remains vigilant with regard to the progress made for the successive milestones to be reached in the coming years and aims to enhance the visibility of these milestones. As part of its oversight of complex projects, it has set up an “observatory of waste retrieval and conditioning (RCD) and decommissioning” which it now includes in this report. This observatory presents the priority projects: for RCD, these are operations concerning waste with the highest source term or with specific safety implications; for decommissioning, this concerns the facilities for which important milestones are to be reached in the coming five to ten years. These priority projects will now be subject to a monitoring approach by project phase or milestone. An important step in the Cigéo project which opens up a period of examination during which the consultative process must continue The Cigéo project for the geological disposal of high and intermediate level long-lived waste has reached an important milestone with the submission of the creation authorisation application for the facility by the French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (Andra), in January 2023. In 2022, ASN continued the detailed technical work prior to the submission of this file which is of considerable scope. It also played an active role in the work done under the aegis of the High Committee for Transparency and Information on Nuclear Safety (HCTISN) to define the arrangements for continued consultation on the project over the coming years: it will include workshops with the stakeholders most concerned by the project, in order to guarantee that all technical issues that raise concerns are taken into account. ABSTRACTS – ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2022 5 Editorial by the Commission