On March 11, 2011, an earthquake followed by a tsunami led to the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster, shaking the nuclear industry the world over. Since then, each country has revised its safety standards upwards to be able to cope with extreme natural disasters. An international action plan outlining new standards was issued and approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to meet two objectives: to strengthen facility robustness, and to ensure that the situation remains under control in the event of an emergency. This requires more robust equipment, organizational and human resources.
In France, no fewer than 900 requirements were issued by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) to strengthen the 80 facilities that make up the French nuclear program. All of them aim for the same idea: to keep the situation under control. This means additional systems to supply air, water and electricity and a special “bunkerized” command center that can be used in the event of a major incident. Systems to filter releases are also being installed to protect groundwater and surface water.
These measures are being deployed at all AREVA sites. The emergency command center of Tricastin has been in operation since the end of 2015, and the Romans center will be in service before the end of 2016. Work is also underway at the la Hague and MELOX sites to further improve the ability of the facilities to withstand natural disasters.
Along with the efforts to make the sites more robust are those to prepare people better. In 2014, AREVA set up a special response team, the AREVA National Response Force (FINA). Its members draw on mission descriptions listing specific actions to be taken. Personnel also receive special emergency management training, and drills simulating major emergencies are conducted regularly.