Nuclear decommissioning

Alongside our industrial partners we are involved in nuclear installation decommissioning projects – one of the major issues for the nuclear sector over the next few decades given the number of plants that are scheduled for shut down.

The next few decades will present some major challenges for our industry as it will have to solve all the technical difficulties related to decommissioning all kinds of nuclear installations at the end of their life cycles (reactors, enrichment and reprocessing plants, etc.) – issues that have never before been tackled.

Once a basic nuclear installation permanently ceases to operate, its decommissioning is covered by a new decree, issued after consultation with the ASN. Among other things, the decree lays down the main stages in decommissioning, the date of completion, and the final state that has to be achieved.

In order to avoid splitting decommissioning projects and to improve their overall consistency, the dossier submitted in support of the application for a decommissioning decree must explicitly describe all the work envisaged, from the point of shut down to the end state, and for each step explain the nature and extent of the risks presented by the installation and the resources that will be employed to handle them. The application is subject to a public inquiry.

In addition, France’s Environmental Code provides that the safety of an installation in the decommissioning phase, like that of all other nuclear installations, be subject to periodic review, which usually takes place every ten years. The objective of these reviews is to ensure the level of safety of the installation is as high as possible right up to the end of the decommissioning operations.

In addition to the essential technical expertise required for carrying out decommissioning operations, environmental issues are just as important, as are any risks to people which have to be controlled in order to ensure the success of these types of projects.

Sofren and its partners have therefore mobilized and are now among the companies authorized to operate in this environment as a result of their certification and other qualifications. The Sofren teams operate on sites as varied as the Saint Laurent des Eaux, Chinon and the former Brennilis power stations.

The Sofren teams are involved in areas as diverse as project management (in particular methodology and scheduling for the planned decommissioning operations), mechanical studies (dismantling and breaking down equipment, studies of the associated lifting equipment, for example), studies on waste, coordination of operational activities on the ground, regulatory studies and safety studies, as well as the consideration and management of radiation protection issues.