29 Jan (NucNet): France’s nuclear safety authority ASN (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire) has ordered Areva NC to comply with regulations on pressurised nuclear equipment at its La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing facility after inspections last month noted “several serious deficiencies” in documentary requirements and maintenance.
ASN said in a statement that it had asked Areva NC to comply with the provisions of a 2005 decree making Areva NC responsible for complying with requirements related to items of nuclear pressurised equipment, some of which is critical to safety.
ASN said some of the pressurised equipment at La Hague contributes to the containment of radioactive substances and, if it fails, could cause “significant radioactive releases”.
Specific regulations govern the design, manufacturing and maintenance of this equipment, ASN said. Regulations provide for periodic technical audits on 60 items of pressurised equipment inventoried by Areva NC in various workshops on the La Hague site.
ASN said that during an inspection on 3 and 4 December 2012 at the La Hague site, it noted several serious deficiencies in documentary requirements and also in requirements relating to the maintenance and verification of this equipment.
Areva NC has also not justified the classification of some pressurised equipment at La Hague, ASN said. All such equipment must be ranked to take into account the risks posed if it fails and the operator must “define and justify” this ranking, ASN said.
ASN also noted that there were no operational, maintenance or monitoring records for any of the pressurised equipment.
Areva’s La Hague facility, about 20 kilometres to the west of Cherbourg, provides the first stage in the recycling of used fuel taken from nuclear reactors. La Hague has capacity for the annual reprocessing of used fuel from 80 to 100 nuclear reactors, amounting to about 1,700 tonnes.