Abstracts ASN Report 2021

LECA-STAR High Activity Laboratory – CEA centre BNI 55 accommodates the Active Fuel Examination Laboratory (LECA) and its extension, the Treatment, Clean-out and Reconditioning Station (STAR), which constitute the CEA’s expert assessment facilities for the analysis of irradiated fuels. Commissioned in 1964, the LECA laboratory enables the CEA to carry out destructive and non-destructive examinations of spent fuel from the nuclear power, research and naval propulsion sectors. As the facility is old, it was partially reinforced in the early 2010’s to improve its earthquake resistance. To ensure the long-term continuity of the facility, the CEA has undertaken to reduce the dispersible inventory of the LECA laboratory. During the inspection carried out in 2021 on compliance with the requirements and commitments made following the periodic safety review of 2013, ASN noted the good organisation deployed by the licensee to meet the requirements set by ASN. Commissioned in 1999, the STAR facility is an extension of the LECA laboratory, designed for the stabilisation and reconditioning of spent fuel. The licensee reported two signif icant events in April and July 2021, one rated level 1 on the INES scale, linked to malfunctions of lifting and grasping devices in the STAR shielded cells. The action plan established after analysing the root causes of the events, particularly the OHFs, and conducting an expert assessment of the failure of the handling devices and the operating experience feedback from these systems, should prevent their recurrence. Further to the inspections carried out in 2021, ASN will be attentive to ensuring that the CEA meets its commitments relating to the inspections and the processing of significant events. ASN considers that the level of nuclear safety and radiation protection of the LECA-STAR facility in 2021 is generally satisfactory, particularly the licensee’s organisation for controlling nuclear chain reactions, the f ire-f ighting means and the maintaining of static and dynamic containment. Solid radioactive waste storage area – CEA centre BNI 56, declared in January 1968 for the disposal of waste, is used for storing legacy solid radioactive waste from the Cadarache centre. It comprises 3 pools, 6 pits, 5 trenches and hangars, which contain in particular ILW-LL waste from the operation or decommissioning of CEA facilities. BNI 56 is one of the priorities identif ied by the CEA in its new decommissioning and waste management strategy. The facility decommissioning f ile, submitted in 2018, was supplemented in 2021. In view of the conclusions of the examination of the facility’s safety review, ASN has also set new technical requirements aiming to regulate its continued operation through resolution CODEP-CLG-2021-013405 of 15 March 2021. The operations to retrieve the waste contained in the recent pits, to remove the waste that is stored in the hangars and to put in place the static containment of trench T2 continued. The waste retrieval and repackaging targets for the year 2021 were broadly achieved. ASN will however remain attentive to the schedule shift for performing certain decommissioning preparation operations. ASN considers that the level of nuclear safety and radiation protection of the CEA Cadarache storage area in 2021 is broadly satisfactory, particularly with regard to pollution prevention, control of nuisance factors and waste management. Improvements have more specifically been observed in the facility’s stormwater management, but these actions must be taken through to completion. The licensee must continue its studies to identify and open disposal routes for waste that does not have a disposal route at present. Phébus research reactor – CEA centre The Phébus reactor (BNI 92) is an experimental pool-type reactor with a power rating of 38 MWth which functioned from 1978 to 2007. Phébus was designed for the study of serious accidents affecting light water reactors and for defining operating procedures to prevent core melt-down or to mitigate its consequences. The licensee submitted its decommissioning file to the Minister in February 2018 and its periodic safety review report to ASN in October 2017. The Environmental Authority issued its opinion on the decommissioning file in July 2021 and the CEA submitted its memorandum in response in November 2021. One of the priorities of the decommissioning preparation operations was the removal of the irradiated fuel f rom the reactor, and this was completed in January 2019. The decommissioning preparation operations continued in 2021, in particular with the removal of used radioactive sources and the characterisation of certain equipment items. The last nonirradiated fuels were removed in December 2021. ASN considers that the CEA’s organisation for performing the periodic inspections and tests and for occupational radiation protection is satisfactory on the whole. Laboratory for research and experimental fabrication of advanced nuclear fuels – CEA centre Commissioned in 1983, the Laboratory for Research and Experimental Fabrication of Advanced Nuclear Fuels (Lefca –BNI 123) was a laboratory tasked with conducting studies on plutonium, uranium, actinides and their compounds with the aim of understanding the behaviour of these materials in the reactor and in the various stages of the “fuel cycle”. In 2018, Lefca f inalised the transfer of part of its research and development equipment to the Atalante laboratories (BNI 148), at Marcoule. The CEA submitted the f inal shutdown declaration for the facility in April 2019. However, in December 2021, the CEA informed ASN of its decision to keep the Lefca facility in 94 ABSTRACTS – ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2021 REGIONAL OVERVIEWOF NUCLEAR SAFETY AND RADIATION PROTECTION