All four of EDF's regional nuclear emergency bases are now in full operation. Proposed following the Fukushima accident, these will be capable of rapidly responding to a serious accident at any French nuclear power plant.
|The Bugey FARN team takes part in an emergency exercise at the Saint Alban plant (Image: EDF, Vautrin Laurent)
Immediately after the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011, EDF proposed to put in place a 'rapid reaction force' of experts and engineers that can be deployed on short notice to any of its power plants around the country. That proposal was subsequently approved by the French nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN).
EDF said that the fourth and final regional centre for this Nuclear Rapid Action Force (Force d’Action Rapide du Nucléaire, FARN) has now been opened at the Bugey plant in southeast France. It will be manned by a team of 70 EDF employees specialized in plant operations, maintenance, radiation protection and nuclear logistics.
US emergency centres
The US nuclear industry is developing two regional centres - at Memphis, Tennessee, and Phoenix, Arizona - to provide emergency response equipment to any affected site in the country within 24 hours of an extreme event. The centres are intended to supplement an initiative to purchase additional on-site portable equipment at every US nuclear facility.
Other FARN bases have already opened at the Civaux plant in western France, Paluel in the north of the country and Dampierre in central France. The four bases are coordinated by a national headquarters.
Between them, the bases provide emergency support, in terms of personnel and equipment, to any French nuclear power plant within 24 hours. In total, the FARN employs some 150 people who divide their time between FARN-related activities, training, emergency exercises and their usual jobs at nuclear power plants. Each of the four bases holds equipment that can be sent to the scene of an accident, including mobile pumps, generators, trucks, barges, lifting equipment, personal protection equipment and communications equipment.
EDF claims it is the first nuclear operator to set up such a response force.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News