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Japan/France/nuclear safety

Published on March 24, 2011
Letter from François Fillon, Prime Minister, to André-Claude Lacoste, Chairman of the Nuclear Safety Authority

Paris, March 23, 2011

Dear Chairman,

Japan has been hit by an earthquake and then a tsunami on an exceptional scale. The public authorities are making every effort to help that country – which is undergoing the largest human tragedy since 1945 – and provide our nationals living in Japan with the necessary support under these circumstances.

In addition to the extremely high human toll and the huge damage caused by these natural disasters, a serious nuclear accident hit the Fukushima nuclear power station. For our citizens on the mainland and overseas, it is essential to have transparent, reliable information about the consequences of the accident available as quickly as possible. The Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) are making a very special contribution to this analysis and its dissemination in real time. Lessons regarding our own nuclear facilities should then be learnt from this accident, and this is why, on 15 March, I announced to Parliament my wish that the safety of each nuclear plant be subjected to close scrutiny.

In accordance with Article 8 of Act No. 2006-686 of 13 June 2006 on nuclear transparency and safety, I request that you conduct a study of the safety of nuclear facilities – giving priority to nuclear power stations – in view of the accident taking place at the Fukishima plant. This audit will focus on five points: the risks of flooding, earthquakes, loss of electricity supply and loss of cooling, and the operational management of accident situations. It complements the safety measures put in place by the nuclear operators under your control. I would like you to examine, facility by facility, whether improvements are necessary in the light of the lessons to be learnt from the Fukushima accident.

I would like you to be able to establish, within a month, specifications and a timetable for this assessment. I ask that you ensure that these steps are consistent with the work being carried out at European level by ENSREG (European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group) and WENRA (Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association), to which you belong.
On the basis of these specifications, you should deliver your initial conclusions by the end of 2011.

I attach the greatest importance to these steps being taken openly and transparently: the High Committee for Transparency and Information on Nuclear Safety (HCTISN) will contribute to it at every phase. You should also inform the Local Information Commissions (CLIs) of the progress of your work.

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