ASN approves continued operation of the AREVA Melox plant following ten-yearly safety review

In brief

The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has approved the continued operation of the AREVA Melox plant. The decision was announced by the ASN on July 15, 2014 after analyzing the report submitted on September 21, 2011, and presenting the results of the first safety review* conducted on the Basic Nuclear Installation No. 151 at Melox.

The Environmental Code stipulates that nuclear installations, power plants and fuel cycle facilities conduct a safety review at least every ten years. In application of this system, Melox teams submitted the first review file for the site in September 2011, covering the period 1999-2009. After detailed examination of the review data, the ASN found no grounds for opposing the continued operation of the facility, subject to compliance with their requirements for improving control over criticality and fire risks, and risk of exposure of workers to ionizing radiation, to be implemented before the end of 2016.

"This decision reflects the confidence of the ASN in our ability to progress in order to maintain the best indicators in terms of health, safety and the environment. My congratulations go to all the teams who have worked on this review operation. Let's now maintain a consistently high-level of ongoing vigilance on our strict compliance with rules and procedures, and that goes for both AREVA staff and our subcontractors", stressed Jean-Marc Ligney, Director of the AREVA Melox site.

In its 2013 report, the ASN had already stated that "Melox implements best practices in monitoring its commitments and is rigorous in responding to the ASN's requirements."

The nuclear safety review
The nuclear safety review
* The purpose of the nuclear safety review is to make an in-depth examination of the state of facilities to ensure they are consistent with the applicable guidelines. It also aims to improve the level of safety of facilities. For this reason, the requirements applicable to facilities are compared with those to be met by the most recent facilities. Developments in the state of the art, as well as operational feedback at national and international level, are also taken into account. Moreover the safety review serves to verify that aging phenomena on installations can be satisfactorily controlled for at least the following ten year period of operation. Safety reviews are therefore one of the cornerstones of nuclear safety in France, requiring the operator to not only maintain but to improve the level of safety of their installations.