Abstracts ASN Report 2021

ORANO ASN considers that the safety level of the facilities operated by Orano remained overall at a satisfactory level in 2021. ASN however notes that malfunctions in the Melox plant are leading to a faster than anticipated saturation of storage capacity for plutonium-bearing materials, requiring urgent action by the industry in 2022. ASN notes progress in the management of complex projects, such as radioactive waste retrieval and conditioning operations. It however considers that Orano must analyse the causes of delays to the priority projects and ensure the adequacy of the resources devoted to these projects. The facilities operated by Orano are located on the sites of La Hague, Marcoule and Tricastin. They present signif icant implications for safety but of different types, both chemical and radiological. The organisation of the Orano group changed on 1 January 2021. Three group subsidiaries were thus created: ∙ Orano Chimie-Enrichissement, operating nuclear facilities for the production of enriched uranium; ∙ Orano Recyclage, operating nuclear facilities for the reuse of materials derived from spent fuel; ∙ Orano Démantèlement, subsidiary specialising in the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, which does not operate any nuclear facility. This organisational change came on top of other organisational modif ications ongoing within the Orano facilities at La Hague (“Convergence” Project) and Tricastin (“Single licensee” Project). ASN considers that maintaining a high level of safety in the facilities in parallel with the implementation of these organisational changes is a major challenge for Orano. INSTALLATIONS IN OPERATION Orano’s management of the safety of the nuclear installations in operation is on the whole satisfactory. The measures designed to combat ageing phenomena in the equipment of the installations, some of which were commissioned more than 30 years ago, or its replacement by new equipment, represent a major challenge for their continued safe operation. These reviews are an opportunity for Orano to propose improvements, notably concerning management of the f ire risks and the safe storage of materials and waste. ASN considers that Orano must demonstrate greater rigorousness in operation and in compliance with the binding requirements and undertakings made further to the reviews of the installations. LEGACY WASTE RETRIEVAL AND CONDITIONING, DECOMMISSIONING AND WASTE MANAGEMENT Large quantities of legacy waste at La Hague are not stored in accordance with current safety requirements and present major safety risks. The Retrieval and Conditioning of this Legacy Waste (RCD) determines the progress of decommissioning in the def initively shut down plants. With regard to the organisation of complex project management, ASN notes progress, such as assimilation of the objectives of immediate dismantling, the creation of the major projects department, the use of project maturity evaluations, or the development of project progress oversight tools. This progress must however be made more widespread and be consolidated for all the decommissioning and RCD projects. ASN observes that the complexity of the RCD operations had led Orano on several occasions to revise the retrieval and processing scenarios and announce significant postponements, sometimes of several decades. STORAGE CAPACITY In 2021, problems at the Melox plant led to faster than anticipated saturation of the storage capacity for plutoniumbearing materials at La Hague. ASN considers that the deterioration of the available margins in the storage facilities at La Hague is all the more worrying as, were these diff iculties to persist, it would be impossible to rule out saturation of the spent fuel storage pools far faster than expected. OUTSIDE CONTRACTORS ASN considers that the licensee must continue with its efforts to improve the monitoring of outside contractors, by ensuring that in-house technical skills are maintained in order to guarantee the quality of the services provided. Orano must also ensure that appropriate monitoring is maintained on operation of the workshops placed under the responsibility of industrial operators. PERSONNEL RADIATION PROTECTION Radiation protection issues are taken seriously by Orano. Particular vigilance is however required with regard to the Melox facility, owing to the increase in the number of preventive and corrective maintenance operations carried out on the facility’s equipment, against a backdrop of signif icant production diff iculties. This situation is leading to signif icant exposure, although within the regulation limits, of a large number of personnel in this facility. The signif icant radiation protection events reported for the Orano group sites are primarily linked to the radiological cleanliness of the premises. RISK MANAGEMENT With respect to f ire, ASN notes signif icant progress in the work done to reinforce fire detection and protection. However, considerable inadequacies remain in the facilities. Furthermore, the safety analyses presented are sometimes incomplete, or insuff icient f rom the technical standpoint, and ASN has therefore asked that they be extensively revised. The licensee must improve and more regularly update its incident response instructions, so that they are more appropriate and operational, and carry out periodic exercises to test them. ABSTRACTS – ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2021 15 ASN ASSESSMENTS PER LICENSEE AND BY ACTIVITY SECTOR