IRRS completes review of French nuclear regulator

1 December 2014

A team of senior international nuclear and radiation safety experts has completed a 12-day International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to review the French regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety.

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team, which completed its mission on 28 November, found that the French Nuclear Safety Authority "operates as an independent regulatory body and benefits from advice provided by the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety and specialised standing advisory committees," IAEA said.

The IRRS mission identified additional good practices including the involvement of stakeholders in the regulatory processes, transparent decision-making and extensive communication to promote stakeholder participation in regulatory activities and decisions. It also found "good coordination between regulatory organisations involved in emergency planning and effective cooperation with licensees in this area."

The mission highlighted four issues that are in need of attention or improvement.

"The regulatory framework for the control of medical exposure should be reviewed to ensure there are no gaps and that the organisations involved are properly coordinated," an IAEA statement said.

It also noted that ASN's system for reviewing and revising its regulatory framework should be strengthened; that all processes needed to deliver ASN's mandate should be addressed in the regulator's integrated management system and fully implemented, and that 'new ways' should be explored to ensure that ASN has the human and financial resources it needs for effective regulation of nuclear and radiation safety into the future

"Our review shows that there is a strong commitment to safety in France," commented IRRS team leader Mark Satorius, executive director for operations at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "The team found that ASN is a mature organisation that is structured in a manner that enables it to carry out its regulatory duties effectively. We also found that great emphasis is placed on the impartiality of ASN commissioners, committees and staff."

The IRRS team, which included 22 experts from 17 IAEA member states, was invited by the French government to complete the peer review. A final mission report will be provided to the French government in three months. The IAEA says that French authorities have announced they will make the report public.

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