ASN Report 2022

Melox plant Created in 1990 and operated by Orano Recyclage, the Melox plant (BNI 151) produces MOX fuel which consists of a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides. ASN considers that the level of nuclear safety and radiation protection is satisfactory in the field of fire risk management and broadly satisfactory in the fields of operational control and waste management. ASN also observes an improvement in the extent to which the regulatory baseline requirements for pressure equipment are assimilated. The effectiveness of the containment barriers is maintained at a satisfactory level. Breaks in containment, which can occur under normal operating conditions, are subject to specific monitoring and measures to limit them. In addition, for several years now the licensee has had difficulties in producing the planned quantities of fuel in accordance with the safety specifications of the nuclear reactors. This situation results in the production of a large quantity of fabrication rejects which are sent to La Hague for interim storage, leading in the short term to the site’s plutonium storage areas being filled to maximum capacity. These difficulties could have major consequences for the “fuel cycle” as a whole and for French nuclear power production. This situation induces significant maintenance needs at Melox, which have consequences in terms of radiation protection, with a growing reliance on outside contractors and a very high collective dosimetry. An ASN inspection conducted on these themes revealed that the increase in the maintenance operations had led to a significant increase in waste production, leading in turn to a risk of saturating the local storage capacities. In 2022 the licensee qualified a new uranium oxide powder which should normally bring a reduction in the quantity of rejects. The industrial production of this new type of powder requires the creation of a new facility on Orano’s Malvési site (see chapter 11 – “Fuel cycle” of the full ASN Report). The other solutions deployed to lastingly improve this situation in the facility consist firstly in thoroughly cleaning the glove boxes to reduce the ambient dose levels, and secondly in deploying a major maintenance programme with the aim of restoring the level of availability of the production tools. Furthermore, the programme to repair the machines, baptised “PPRM” project, continued in 2022. An inspection on these themes was carried out in 2022 and found that the resources and areas of work engaged by Orano Recyclage should resolve the facility’s production and maintenance difficulties. The construction of the emergency centre should be completed shortly, allowing the building to be commissioned in 2023, as prescribed by ASN. Centraco plant The Centraco plant (BNI 160), was created in 1996 and is operated by Cyclife France, a 100% subsidiary of EDF. The purpose of the Centraco plant is to sort, decontaminate, reuse, treat and package – particularly by reducing their volume – waste and effluents with low and very low levels of radioactivity. The waste resulting from the plant’s processes is then routed to Andra’s CSA repository. The facility comprises: • a melting unit, melting a maximum of 3,500 tonnes of metallic waste per year; • an incineration unit, in which the incinerable waste is burned, with a maximum of 3,000 tonnes of solid waste and 2,000 tonnes of liquid waste per year; • and storage areas. ASN considers the level of safety of the facility to be broadly satisfactory, particularly as regards the management of transport and of aging. Waste management, for its part, must undergo radical changes in order to meet the storage deadlines defined in the baseline safety requirements. ASN also conducted an inspection concerning the BNI’s periodic safety review. Furthermore, Cyclife France sent ASN modification requests for its facility in 2020 to allow the treatment of particular types of waste in Centraco with specific sorting put in place for this waste. ASN considers that the technical and organisational provisions presented by the licensee for this prior sorting operation in dedicated units are satisfactory in principle, but double-checking of the conformity of the waste introduced into the incineration or melting furnaces must be maintained. ASN thus modified the requirements of its resolution 2008‑DC‑0126 of 16 December 2008 through resolution CODEP‑CLG-2022‑003400 of 19 January 2022. In March 2022, Cyclife submitted a noteworthy modification application file with the aim of creating a VLL asbestos waste processing facility in order to be able to treat waste from the decommissioning of Chinon A. This file, which is currently being examined by ASN, provides for the creation of a new facility baptised “asbestos facility” allowing the sorting of bags of asbestos waste before repackaging. The investigations conducted following the discovery of a waste item having exceeded its storage deadline, which formed the subject of a significant event report to ASN in July 2022, revealed numerous other waste items whose storage duration exceeds the time stipulated in the facility’s Creation Authorisation Decree. This led the licensee to deploy an action plan to conduct an in-depth review of its technical and organisational arrangements for managing its waste in the facility. The implementation of this action plan and the meeting of the commitments made shall be checked by ASN. ABSTRACTS – ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2022 87 Regional overview of nuclear safety and radiation protection • OCCITANIE •