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The actors of the RNM

The Nuclear Safety Authority

     As an independent administrative authority acting for the government, the ASN controls civilian nuclear activities in France to protect workers, patients, the public and the environment from the risks associated to the use of nuclear energy.

Role in the radioactivity monitoring:

  • The ASN lays down radioactivity monitoring requirements concerning nuclear sites. It sets out the maximum values for effluent discharges and water withdrawals.
  • The ASN checks compliance with these requirements, in particular by examining the monitoring registers produced by the operators and by carrying out inspections. In the case of overruns, coercive measures may be taken, including the activity suspension.

The French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety

   As a public expert on nuclear and radiological risks, the IRSN contributes to the site safety and provides radiological monitoring of the environment and workers exposed to ionizing radiation.

The IRSN helps to assess the radiological status of the environment in three ways:

  • By carrying out expertise missions as part of its technical support to the relevant authorities: ASN or DSND (the French Representative in charge of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection for Defense-related Activities and Facilities), prefects and Regional Directorates for the Environment, Town and Country Planning and Housing DREAL (analysis of Safety Reports, technical documents ...).
  • By contributing to radiological monitoring across the country. In that connection, IRSN conducts continuous monitoring around nuclear sites complementing the monitoring procedures set up by nuclear operators, as well as a more general monitoring in France.
  • By conducting studies and research on environmental radioactivity.

GOVERNMENTAL ADMINISTRATIONS and SERVICES (Ministry directorates and governmental agencies)

   Directorate General for Risk Prevention (Environment Ministry) : The DGPR is divided in 3 departments: - the Technological Risks Department, which deals with radiological risks, - the Department for the Prevention of Pollution and for Environmental Protection, - and the Department for Natural and Water-based Risks. Within the Technological Risks Department, the Nuclear Safety and Radiological Protection (MSNR) mission, in liaison with the Nuclear Safety Authority, proposes the Government's policy on nuclear safety and radiological protection, excluding the activities “Defense and protection of workers”. It participates in all the committees dealing with radiological protection, including the national network for measuring the environmental radioactivity.

  The Directorate General on Food Safety (DGAL) is more specifically responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of foodstuffs (both for humans and animals), and for promoting the French food, sanitary and phytosanitary models at international level. The scope of the DGAL focuses on food hygiene, nutrition, animal and plant health, the supervision of quality systems and, more generally, the safety and quality of the agricultural food chain.

The DGAL prepares an annual plan, with the assistance of IRSN, for monitoring potential radionuclide contamination of animal feed and foodstuffs of animal origin and, for primary production (at the farming stage), of vegetable foodstuffs. The sampling is carried out on the whole territory and the radionuclides sought are mainly cesium 134 and 137 and strontium 89 and 90.

   Among its missions, the Directorate for Competition, Consumer Rights and Protection against Fraud (DGCCRF) ensures the safety of food products (composition, general and nutritional labeling, allegations, hygiene and respect of the cold chain, contaminants including radioactive substances).

The DGCCRF prepares an annual plan, with the assistance of the IRSN, for monitoring the radioactive contamination of foodstuffs of vegetable origin taken from domestic market. The radionuclides sought are mainly cesium-134 and -137.

The DGCCRF has a monitoring plan available for the radioactive contamination of vegetable foodstuffs origin since 1986, when the Chernobyl accident occurred. At the time of the Fukushima accident in 2011, the DGCCRF, together with DGDDI (Directorate-General for Customs and Indirect Duties), implemented a stronger control of foodstuffs originating in or coming from Japan.

   With regard to defense-related facilities and activities, the DSND, which reports to the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Industry, is responsible for reviewing effluent discharge and water intake permit applications, in accordance with the French Defense Code. Requirements for environmental radiological monitoring at these facilities are defined by ministerial orders, based on the DSND report after the operators' permit applications have been examined. The two authorities, ASN and the DSND, consult on all issues that may have an impact on effluent discharge and water intake permit applications, and on environmental monitoring at sites accommodating civil and defense facilities.

   Regarding water, the Directorate General for Health (DGS) ensures the protection of the public with regard to various uses of water (drinking water, water for recreation, domestic hot water, bottled water and waste water). As part of the health inspection activities assigned to them under the French Public Health Code, the Local Health and Social Services Departments (DDASS) or Regional Health Agencies (ARS), as they are now called, have regularly inspected the radiological quality of water intended for human consumption since 2005.

   The Regional Health Agencies carry out regular controls of the radiological quality of water intended for human consumption, the results of which can be consulted on www.eaupotable.sante.gouv.fr.

   Santé Publique France (formerly InVS) is responsible for monitoring the health status of populations. It is a member of the Steering Committee.

Local authorities :

Some local authorities, especially the Conseils Généraux (local government authorities at department level), have set up complementary environmental monitoring networks, independent of industry and government agencies, in departments where significant nuclear activities are carried out. Many Conseils Généraux, along with municipalities and metropolitan areas, rely on analytical laboratories to test the radioactivity of various environmental samples (including water, air, foodstuffs, soil and waste). If these radioactivity measurements are taken to meet legal or regulatory requirements, for example under the French Public Health Code or the Environmental Code, they must be conducted by certified laboratories and their results published on the RNM Internet site.

NUCLEAR FACILITY OPERATORS

   EDF's nuclear power plants in France consist in 58 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) in operation, located on 19 sites, also known as Nuclear Power Generation Centers (CNPE).

Every year, over 2000 samples and 3000 measurements of environmental radioactivity are carried out around each NPP within the regulatory framework but also on a voluntary basis by the operator. All these measurements are carried out by laboratories approved by the ASN for environmental radioactivity measurements and all nuclear sites EDF have an environmental management system certified "ISO 14001".

   The National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA) is responsible for the long-term management of radioactive waste produced in France. ANDRA operates two sites in the Aube region, the Aube Storage Center (CSA) and the Industrial Grouping, Storage and Storage Center (C.I.R.E.S). It is also responsible for the management and supervision of the Channel Storage Center (CSM).

For each of its centers, ANDRA sets up and implements an environmental monitoring program. This program enables to assess the radiological status of the various environmental compartments around the waste sites and to follow their evolution. This program more specifically aims at assessing the impact of the site activities on the environment and population, and to detect any abnormal situation as early as possible.

   The AREVA group intervenes throughout the nuclear cycle, from the uranium mine to the recycling of spent fuel, including the design of nuclear reactors and services for their exploitation. As this operator is engaged into nuclear activities, several AREVA operation sites must comply with regulations requiring measurements of environmental radioactivity in order to check and monitor their activity impact. These radioactivity measurements are fed monthly into the national network.

   Commission of Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy, a public and scientific, technical, industrial research institution, the CEA is a major player in research, development and innovation. It is involved in four missions:

  • defense  and security,
  • nuclear energy,
  • technological research for industry,
  • fundamental research in materials and life sciences.

Based on an expertise level recognized nationally and internationally, the CEA participates in the setting up of collaborative projects with many academic and industrial partners.

Located on 10 sites in France, this operator of nuclear facilities runs 6 test laboratories accredited by COFRAC which were among the first to be approved by the ASN for the measurement of environmental radioactivity carried out within the framework of regulatory programs. These laboratories monitor the environment several kilometers around the operating sites, in addition to the control of effluent discharged. This monitoring represents several tens of thousands of radiological and physicochemical analyzes each year.

   The Laue Langevin Institute (ILL) of Grenoble is an international research organization equipped with the most intense neutron source in the world, feeding some 40 instruments in constant modernization. Its facilities and personnel are made available to scientists from all over the world. Each year, about 1 500 researchers perform there over 800 experiments in the most varied fields: biology, chemistry, soft matter, nuclear physics, material science, etc.

   The Navy uses nuclear power both for nuclear deterrence and for energy production to power some of its ships (all submarines and the aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle").

Nuclear energy allows mobility and endurance, which are two major assets to naval operations. Three prototype boiler houses on land, 16 submarine boiler rooms (6 of which are permanently shut down) and two aircraft carrier boiler rooms have already been designed and operated, and for some, even dismantled. Three military ports in France accommodate nuclear naval bases. Specificity of these nuclear sites is their integration in major urban centers (Toulon, Brest, Cherbourg). In addition, these ports are open to roadsteads that constitute sensitive ecosystems.

The French Navy has laboratories specialized in radiological monitoring, which collect and analyze terrestrial, atmospheric and marine samples collected in port areas.

Other operators such as Synergie Health and Solvay are also contributors to the RNM.

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

  ACRO, a non-profit organization created in 1986 under French Act of 1901, has its own radioactivity measurement laboratory, to provide civil society with information and reliable, independent measurements. The creation of such an organization is the consequence of the civil society evolution to make the citizen author and actor in the monitoring of its environment as of its information. Their action relies on citizen’s vigilance. To support and challenge the official monitoring.

As part of its Citizen's Observatory of Radioactivity, the ACRO conducts regular monitoring of environmental radioactivity throughout the Seine-Normandy basin, and also conducts investigations in other areas on specific individual request, or for environmental protection non-profit organization or CLI. Their actions not only aim at the consequences of discharges from nuclear installations, but also take into account the natural radioactivity and the use of unsealed sources in nuclear medicine (in particular).

   The Lorraine non-profit organization for Air Quality (ALQA) was created in January 1992 by the Regional Council of Lorraine. The Chernobyl accident in 1986 and scarce related information available then, triggered a need for an independent measurement structure.

The management of an environmental radioactivity monitoring network is the main mission of the ALQA. To perform this mission, analyzers of ambient radioactivity have been set up in the four Lorraine departments. The ALQA also has mobile or laboratory measuring equipment, so as to carry out radio-ecological studies.

   Local Information Commissions (CLI) were set up in the 1980s around most of the nuclear installations by the County Councils. The CLIs have a general mission of monitoring, information and consultation in the field of nuclear safety, radiological protection and the impact of nuclear activities. At the national level, the ANCCLI federates the 36 existing CLIs in France and ensures the link between local concerns and national actions.

CLIs take part in the radioactivity monitoring by having expertises and/or certified measurements carried out, in relation with discharge released by a facility into the environment. This is called citizen expertise. The ANCCLI participates, with the support of its Scientific Committee, in the public consultations launched by the ASN and the government on the regulatory updates relative to the environment and the monitoring of nuclear installation discharges.

 The Organization of Scientists for Information on Nuclear Energy (GSIEN) is a non-profit organization (law 1901) created on 15 December 1975. With its newspaper "La Gazette Nucléaire", this group of independent scientists broadcast information on the many questions raised by the nuclear industry development in France.

   The BNEN (Nuclear Equipment Standardization Office for Nuclear Facilities) is the French standardization office in charge of standards for civilian nuclear activities. It manages 5 standardization commissions, one of which deals with methods of measuring radioactivity in the main environmental compartments: air, water, soil, bio-indicators and food.

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