French law heeds lessons

10 February 2012

Lessons learned from the Fukushima accident have been enshrined in a newly updated French law governing safety and security regulations for nuclear installations. Meanwhile, the country's president has assured workers at the country's oldest operating nuclear plant of his support for its continued operation.

Fessenheim workers make sure Nicolas Sarkozy hears their message (Image:

According to France's nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), the ministerial order formally published in the country's official gazette on 8 February integrates rules reflecting international best practices into French national law. The order on general rules relating to nuclear installations - referred to as the INB order - incorporates a number of benchmarks established by the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA). These, say the ASN, reflect the latest International Atomic Energy Agency standards and the most demanding approaches practised in the states concerned, and represent a common basis for the harmonisation of international practices.

The decree also includes responses to issues raised from the Fukushima nuclear accident, introducing requirements for preparation and management of emergency situations into the regulations and monitoring of external events. Operators themselves will now be held by law to be directly responsible for monitoring safety-critical activities.

In total, the rule has taken two years to draft, with public consultations held in the first half of 2010 and the latter part of 2011. It will officially enter force on 1 July 2013, although some of its provisions will come into force earlier or may be delayed depending on the magnitude of the work needed to enact them.

Sarkozy: Yes to Fessenheim

French president Nicolas Sarkozy took the opportunity of a visit to the Fessenheim nuclear power plant to tell workers that he has no intention of forcing France's oldest nuclear power plant to close. Sarkozy's Socialist opponent in upcoming presidential elections, Francois Hollande, has proposed large-scale cuts to France's nuclear generating capacity including closing the two Fessenheim units, which have been in operation since 1977 and 1978 respectively.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News