Nuclear regulatory authority
The Government (Ministry of Ecological Transition) exercises regulatory powers. It is therefore in charge of laying down the general regulations concerning nuclear safety and radiation protection. It is tasked with taking major decisions concerning nuclear facilities (the design, construction, operation and decommissioning), for which it relies on proposals or opinions from ASN.
The Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), is an independent administrative Authority which takes part in regulating nuclear safety, radiation protection and the nuclear activities. Its role and duties:
ASN contributes to drafting regulations, by submitting its opinion to the Government on draft decrees and Ministerial Orders, or by issuing technical regulations.
ASN examines all individual authorization applications for nuclear facilities. It can grant all licenses and authorisations, with the exception of major authorisations for nuclear installations, such as creation and decommissioning.
ASN is responsable for ensuring compliance with the rules and requirements applicable to the facilities and activities within its field of competence. ASN’s roles now include protecting ionizing radioactive sources against malicious acts. Inspection is ASN’s primary monitoring activity. More than 1,800 inspections are thus carried out every year in the fields of nuclear safety and radiation protection. ASN has a range of enforcement and penalty powers.
It informs the public and the stakeholders (NGOs, Local Information Committees, media, etc.) about its activities and the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France. ASN enables all members of the public to take part in the drafting of its decisions with an impact on the environment. ASN’s main information channel is its website asn.fr.
ASN monitors the steps taken by the licensee to make the facility safe. It informs the public and its foreign counterparts of the situation. ASN assists the Government. More particularly, it sends the competent Authorities its recommendations regarding the protective actions to be taken.
ASN monitors and regulates an extremely varied range of activities and facilities, that covers:
- 56 nuclear reactors producing 70% of the electricity consumed in France;
- Flamanville EPR reactor under construction;
- about 90 other facilities participating in civil research activities, radioactive waste management activities or “fuel cycle” activities;
- more than 30 or so facilities which have been finally shut down or are being decommissioned;
- several thousand facilities or activities using sources of ionising radiation for medical, industrial or research purposes;
- several hundred thousand shipments of radioactive substances performed annually in France.
Radioactive waste and spent fuel management
The public authorities are attentive to the fact that there must be a management route for all waste and that each waste management step is carried out under safe conditions. Operational disposal solutions now exist for very low-level waste (VLLW) and for low- and intermediate-level short-lived waste (LILW-SL). For those waste currently without a disposal end-point, such as High-Level, or Low-Level and Long-Lived waste, Andra conducts research and development.
ASN is in charge of the control of the safety of storage and disposal facilities.
Main legal instruments
- Act 2006-686 of 13 June 2006 on Transparency and Security in the Nuclear Field.
- Act 2006-739 of 28 June 2006 on the sustainable management of radioactive materials and waste.
- Act 2015-992 of 17 August 2015 concerning Energy Transition for Green Growth.
- Code of Environment.
Last updated in August 2020