An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission has found that France has “significantly strengthened” its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety over the last three years. However it noted that future challenges would require continued focus on the management of resources.

On 9 October, the IRRS team of international experts completed the eight-day follow-up mission to assess how France has implemented recommendations and suggestions made by a 2014 mission. The team found that 14 of the 16 recommendations had been implemented and that ASN had made “significant progress” in enhancing its management systems.

“A comprehensive action plan established by ASN after the 2014 IRRS mission led to significant progress in all areas,” commented team leader Bill Dean, former Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “In particular, the Government and ASN have made considerable effort in revising the legal and regulatory framework and further enhancing its alignment with the IAEA Safety Standards.”

The team noted that since the last review, the French regulator has added financial and personnel resources, introduced efficiencies and improved planning. But it said that in light of future challenges, such as periodic safety reviews, life extensions and additional responsibilities, ASN should continue focusing on resource management.

IAEA noted that France is the first national to complete the second cycle of IRRS missions, reflecting its commitment to continuous safety improvement.

A final mission report is due to be provided to the French government in around three months, and is expected to be made public.

France has 58 reactors, which generating more than 70% of the country’s electricity, and another (Flamanville 3) under construction.

Photo: Map of the French nuclear fleet