illustration chiffre un

CRISIS
AND POST-ACCIDENT

In the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency, IRSN plays an active role in the national crisis response system and provides operational support to the public authorities by assessing the consequences of accidents on people and the environment.

In 2022, IRSN’s efforts focused primarily on real-life situations. The year proved exceptional and unprecedented in several respects:

  • Since February 25, the Institute has maintained its long-term investment in assessing the situation of nuclear facilities in Ukraine linked to the war taking place in that country, first by mobilizing its crisis organization and then placing it in “active standby” mode. Although IRSN has adapted its involvement as events have unfolded, not a week has gone by without the Emergency Response Center holding a meeting on this situation, unprecedented in so many respects (cf. War in Ukraine).
  • Between September 7 and October 6, the Institute had to activate all or part of its crisis organization in response to several incidents that occurred successively or simultaneously on French soil. Thanks to the reactivity of its crisis teams, IRSN was able to effectively fulfill its support missions for the authorities..

In parallel to this exceptional mobilization, IRSN has maintained its participation in a particularly dense program of national crisis exercises, for which it helps prepare the scenarios, as well as local crisis exercises, in conjunction with the operators who organize them, and internal crisis exercises.

Icone crise
8

CRISIS ORGANIZATION
SET-UPS

CONTRIBUTING TO 25

EXERCISES:

  • 11 LOCAL CRISIS EXERCISES
  • 10 NATIONAL CRISIS EXERCISES EXCLUDING DEFENSE-RELATED ACTIVITIES
  • 2 NATIONAL CRISIS EXERCISES ON DEFENSE-RELATED FACILITIES
  • 2 IRSN INTERNAL EXERCISES

IRSN also participates in the development of post-accident doctrine. As such, the Institute has been a stakeholder, for several years, in the work of the CODIRPA[1], led by the ASN. The purpose of this body is to make recommendations on strategy for managing the consequences of a nuclear accident, based in particular on feedback from the Fukushima-Daiichi accident.

IRSN is involved in the five CODIRPA 3 task forces (2020 – 2024) set up in 2022. In the last quarter, the Institute drew up two reports to feed into the work of the two task forces: “Contamination reduction and waste management strategies” and “Accidents other than those that may occur in a nuclear reactor”.

IRSN is also a participant in the review of the National Response Plan for a Major Nuclear or Radiological Accident that the SGDSN (Secretariat-General for National Defence and Security) launched in mid-2022.

Lastly, the Interministerial Directive formalizing organization of the implementation of internal contamination measurements of persons in a radiological emergency with a view to possible healthcare was published on December 29, 2022 in the Official Journal. This directive reinforces the role of the Institute as a stakeholder and centralizing agency for measurements of individuals, and as advisor to the authorities on healthcare requirements and epidemiological studies to be implemented.

[1] CODIRPA: Steering Committee for the management of the post-accident phase of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency.

Illustration mesure contamination

EXERCISES

IRSN PARTICIPATION IN NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY EXERCISES

The Ministry of Energy Transition calls on IRSN’s technical support for the preparation, organization, implementation, and evaluation analysis of annual security exercises.

One of them, called EPEES, is a nuclear security protection and evaluation exercise for operators, which aims, through the use of realistic scenarios, to assess the relevance of the operator’s response to a malicious attack. In 2022, the exercise simulated an attack on the CEA center at Fontenay-aux-Roses (Hauts-de-Seine). Mandated by the HFDS (senior official for defense and security) of the Ministry of Energy Transition, the Institute devised and conducted this exercise (involving on average 200 to 300 participants, and requiring significant coordination) and, at the end, collected the feedback. IRSN’s expertise in organizing such exercises – some fifteen to date – is recognized internationally.

IRSN also provided development support, in 2022, for a nuclear material transport exercise designed to test the emergency alert system, assistance provided to the public authorities, and a materials containment solution.

Lastly, IRSN participated in an inventory exercise for nuclear materials in crisis situations at the Orano site in Malvési (Aude), where uranium oxide concentrate (yellowcake) is converted into uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), ready to be enriched in uranium-235. The objective of this exercise was to assess the operator’s response to the misappropriation of nuclear materials, through a simulated event leading to the initiation of an inventory of nuclear materials. A comparable exercise was held in April at the Framatome plant in Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme), a facility dedicated to the manufacture of fuels for research reactors.

Following each exercise, the Institute produced a report on the actions and the organization of the operators in these situations.

REAL-LIFE SITUATIONS

THE REACTIVITY OF IRSN’S CRISIS ORGANIZATION FOR TWO INCIDENTS

IRSN effectively fulfilled its role of supporting the authorities for two incidents occurring a few days apart.

On September 21, 2022, the Institute activated its crisis organization after having been informed of a fire in a workshop containing uranium at the Framatome plant in Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme), resulting in a risk of radioactivity spreading into the environment. Five days later, it reactivated its crisis organization after being alerted to an incident on the nuclear attack submarine Perle at the Toulon naval base (Var).

In both situations, in order to confirm the absence of radioactive releases into the environment around the sites concerned, IRSN dispatched experts and specialized vehicles to the site, in agreement with the ASN and the Drôme prefecture for the first case, and with the ASND and the Var prefecture for the second. Their direct in situ measurements of radioactive contamination and ambient gamma dose rate revealed no trace of abnormal radioactivity. The additional analyses that IRSN then carried out in its laboratories, using samples taken in the immediate vicinity of each of the sites, confirmed the absence of radioactive contamination. After laboratory analysis, the Institute published its results a few days after the event on its website en.irsn.fr.

PUBLIC INFORMATION IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION

PROVIDING PUBLIC ACCESS TO DATA ON THE STATE OF RADIOACTIVITY IN THE ENVIRONMENT

In order to fulfill its mission to centralize radioactivity measurements in the environment in an emergency situation and provide feedback on them to the public authorities, IRSN had created a mapping website called CRITER in 2010. To contribute to its mission of transparency and informing the public in an emergency situation, IRSN developed the Webinforad application in 2022. This tool will offer the general public access to a compilation of raw data from the national Teleray radioactivity monitoring network and CRITER. The app will also enable IRSN to provide explanations, in a dedicated tab, in order to clarify the raw data. This tool will be tested during exercises in 2023.

POST-ACCIDENT

NEW CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORK OF THE CODIRPA (STEERING COMMITTEE FOR THE POST-ACCIDENT MANAGEMENT OF A NUCLEAR ACCIDENT)

In 2022, IRSN completed substantial work carried out within the framework of two CODIRPA 3 task forces.

The first task force worked on “Accidents other than those that may occur in a nuclear reactor”. To provide data for this task force at the request of the ASN, and after work done on plutonium in 2021, IRSN drew up a report on uranium published in mid-December 2022. This report provides information on the behavior of uranium in the environment and in the human body, on the metrology of uranium, and on the routes of exposure contributing to the dose. Finally, it presents the elements to be considered in order to assess the robustness of the CODIRPA recommendations in the case of accidental uranium releases.

The second task force deals with “Contamination reduction and waste management strategies”. In response to a request from the ASN, the Institute completed an initial analysis of feedback from the Chornobyl and Fukushima accidents in terms of actions to reduce contamination and the associated waste management. IRSN therefore analyzed post-accident waste management for a severe accident that causes long-term contamination to a widespread area. The report that the Institute published in September presents an up-to-date review of the definition of a typology of environments that may be affected by a nuclear accident as well as possible strategies for reducing contamination and managing waste. The second part, devoted to a case study, describes an accident scenario and the associated consequences, the simulated contamination reduction strategies and, lastly, the quantification of the waste generated and its possible management.

The IRSN teams have been involved in the other three task forces set up in 2022, whose work will continue in 2023, entitled respectively: “Development of a security and radiation protection culture around facilities”, “Involvement of local actors in the management of the post-accident phase”, and “Management of marine environments”. This last group launched its work at the end of the year, co-managed by IRSN/ASN.

In Brief

IRSN PARTICIPATES IN THE NATIONAL CRISIS MANAGEMENT PLAN REVIEW

IRSN is a contributor to the review, undertaken by the SGDSN, of the National Response Plan for a Major Nuclear or Radiological Accident established in 2014. Narrower in scope, the updated version will focus on the specifics related to the radiological and nuclear risk. It will incorporate feedback from the Fukushima-Daiichi accident and work done on the doctrines, particularly post-accident. The Institute is involved in the various task forces (communication, international, measurements, etc.) working mainly in 2023 and whose objective is to update the action sheets of the plan.