International reference texts

The international reference texts are the international conventions and treaties to which France is a contracting party and those reference texts and recommendations concerning nuclear safety and radiation protection that are not formally binding.

Euratom Treaty and European Directives

The purpose of the EURATOM Treaty, which was signed in 1957 and entered into force in 1958 in a context of energy deficit, allows the development of nuclear energy while protecting the population and workers against the harmful effects of ionising radiation. The European Commission produces directives that member states are obliged to implement into their own national legislation.  

European directives concerning radiation protection

Five directives on radiation protection currently constitute the foundation of French legislation and regulations with regard to radiation protection:

  • Directive 96/29/ Euratom of May 13, 1996 setting out the basic standards for the health protection of the general public and workers against the dangers arising from ionising radiation;
  • Directive 97/43/Euratom of  June 30, 1997, relative to the health protection of persons against the hazards of ionising radiation during exposure for medical purposes, replacing directive 84/466 Euratom.
  • Directive 89/618/Euratom of November 27, 1989 on informing the general public about health protection measures to be applied and steps to be taken in the event of a radiological emergency;
  • Directive 90/641/Euratom of December 4, 1990 concerning the protection of outside workers exposed to the risk of ionising radiation during their activities in controlled areas.
  • Directive 2003/122/Euratom of December 22, 2003 on the control of high-activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources.

The text of a new Euratom directive concerning the basic radiation protection standards and grouping the above 5 directives in a single directive taking account of the latest recommendations (103 recommendations) of the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP) was adopted by the European Commission on May 30, 2013 and on 5 December 2013. The new Directive has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 17 January 2014:

This corpus has been supplemented by:

Furthermore, a Euratom decision on December 14,1987 describes the conditions for the early exchange of information between European Union countries in the event of a radiological emergency. This decision complements the IAEA Convention on the early notification in the event of a nuclear accident.

IAEA safety standards

The IAEA safety standards constitute a set of documents that are not legally binding. Nevertheless, they constitute a recognised international reference in nuclear safety and radiation protection. They describe the principles and the best practices in these areas.

The set of standards is broken down into a three-level documentary pyramid :

  • The top level contains the standard relative to the fundamental principles of nuclear safety.
  • The intermediate level contains the safety requirements.
  • The basic level contains the safety guides.

In 2013, 150 documents were published. They are revised regularly.

The development of safety standards is based on a rigorous and robust process. Since the beginning of 1996, this activity has been supervised by the Commission on Safety Standards (CSS), made up of representatives from the highest levels of the nuclear regulatory authorities of twenty Member States. France is represented on this commission by an ASN Deputy Directory-General. The CSS coordinates the work of four committees tasked with overseeing the production of documents in four domains:

  • NUSSC (NUclear Safety Standards Committee) for the safety of nuclear facilities;
  • RASSC (RAdiation Safety Standards Committee) for radiation protection;
  • TRANSSC (TRANsport Safety Standards Committee) for the safety of transport of radioactive material;
  • WASSC (WAste Safety Standards Committee) for the safety of management of radioactive waste.

Represented by ASN, France attends these committees and since 2011 chairs the NUSSC. It also participates in the technical groups that draw up these documents.