EDF maintains plant safety is a priority

06 July 2018

French utility EDF has refuted the findings of a parliamentary commission into the safety and security of the country's nuclear energy facilities. The commission's report, published yesterday, contains "a number of factual errors" and "does not reveal any breach of the obligations incumbent on the operator", EDF noted.

The cross-party parliamentary commission was set up in January due to "the increase in the number of incidents during these past years and, particularly in recent months, within nuclear power plants, as well as repeated incursions by militants opposed to nuclear energy", the report says. It began its investigation in February.

Anti-nuclear organisation Greenpeace has managed to break into operating nuclear power plants on several occasions, the report notes. "On every occasion, vulnerabilities in security systems have emerged and environmental activists have highlighted the risks to some facilities, including cooling pools." The commission says that terrorism "is no longer a risk but a reality" and the government has a responsibility to investigate and inquire about the security of nuclear facilities "with regard to possible malicious acts that could be committed there".

According to the report, France's nuclear installations are at risk from plane crashes, drone incursions, sabotage by workers, intrusions and cyber attacks. It makes 33 recommendations for reducing these risks.

"During the first reading of the report, EDF noted the presence of a number of factual errors," the company said.

EDF said it responded to all the requests made by the commission "within the legal framework", with company executives responding under oath to more than 150 questions during hearings. In addition, some 60 further questions were answered in writing. EDF said it submitted about 2000 pages of documents to the commission. At the request of the commission, visits were organised to the Gravelines, Tricastin and Flamanville plants.

"In view of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, EDF notes that the systems put in place in France to ensure the security of nuclear power plants are very widely validated," the company said. "Regarding nuclear safety, EDF has made it its priority right from the start of its nuclear power plants and is committed to continuous improvement." It noted that the French nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), deemed the safety of France's nuclear power plants to be "overall satisfactory" in 2017.

EDF - which operates 58 nuclear power reactors at 19 sites in France - said it will study the report in detail and make a response by the end of this month.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News