ASN Report 2022

The importance of nuclear safety in the current energy crisis context: a call for collective vigilance The energy crisis that we are currently experiencing in France, along with many other countries, notably in Europe, merits particular attention from the nuclear safety viewpoint. This question was discussed within the WENRA association, which brings together the heads of Europe’s nuclear safety regulators. With the growing concerns regarding the balance between electricity supply and demand, and the need to combat climate change, many countries are once again turning to nuclear energy, whether by extending the service life of existing NPPs or by building new reactors. Given the urgent need for electricity production capacity, this situation could place pressure on a number of stakeholders, in particular industry or the nuclear safety regulators, to the detriment of project quality. In a joint declaration, these regulators, including ASN, issued a number of recommendations aimed at mitigating this risk: • first of all, energy policy decisions must be taken sufficiently well in advance, taking account of the time needed to carry out industrial projects, and must be stable over time. These two aspects are important, because a lack of visibility and stability is prejudicial to safety; • then, the Governments and all the stakeholders must recognise that the licensees have prime responsibility for nuclear safety: they must not be stripped of this responsibility. It is therefore up to them to construct safety cases for the operation of their facilities or their new projects and to do so within the time allowing examination by the safety regulators in good conditions; • finally, the independence of the safety regulators is essential in this current period. They must work efficiently and issue their resolutions within an appropriate time. As we can see, each of these stakeholders has a role to play in obtaining the high level of safety that the citizens are entitled to expect as a new nuclear programme dawns. Striking the right balance in the resolution through in-depth technical dialogue As is often the case in a context of nuclear development – this was already the case at the end of the 1970s when the existing reactors were being built – questions were heard in 2022 regarding the potentially excessive level of stringency shown by the safety authorities in general, and ASN in particular. At the same time, some expressed the fear that ASN was “under pressure”. In this context, it is important to recall how ASN issues its resolutions: this is done by a Commission – in other words not by a single person – and following Olivier Gupta Editorial by the Director General ABSTRACTS – ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2022 9