The Franco-Luxembourg Joint Commission for Nuclear Safety held its nineteenth meeting on 2 February 2021, organised for the first time via videoconference due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
This annual meeting, organised in principle alternately in France and Luxembourg, once again enabled the French Nuclear Safety Authority (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire - ASN) and the Luxembourg authorities to take stock of recent developments in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection.
The Luxembourg delegation was made up of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the radiation protection division of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development and the High Commission for National Protection (Haut-commissariat à la Protection nationale - HCPN). The French delegation was composed of representatives of the ASN, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire - IRSN), the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Moselle Prefecture, in the presence of EDF, the operator of the Cattenom nuclear power plant.
The two delegations discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lessons that authorities and the general population could learn in terms of risk awareness. ASN informed the Luxembourg delegation that nuclear safety at the Cattenom nuclear power plant has not been impacted by the current epidemiological situation and that all measures have been taken by the licensee to guarantee the proper functioning of the installations.
The French delegation underlined that ASN's annual assessment shows that the performance of the Cattenom power station is satisfactory in terms of nuclear safety, radiation protection and environmental protection.
The Joint Commission then addressed the issue of the fourth periodic review of French 900 MWe and 1300 MWe reactors, including the Cattenom plant. The French delegation recalled that these periodic reviews fall within the framework of French legislation on nuclear installations and indicated that the fourth ten-yearly inspection for the first of the reactors at the Cattenom plant will take place in 2026, with a view to the possible continued operation of this reactor beyond 40 years.
The Luxembourg delegation recalled its government's position in principle and expressed its concerns about the continued operation of the Cattenom power plant beyond 40 years, given its proximity to Luxembourg territory and the risks related to environmental protection, public health and safety. Having clarified its position with regard to the scope of the Espoo Convention, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and the Aarhus Convention which oblige the parties to ensure upstream full participation of the cross-border public regarding environmental issues in this area, Luxembourg emphasised its willingness to be associated and consulted at all stages of the next Cattenom review.
The two delegations also had an exchange on current events in radiation protection, including in the field of medical imaging and radon. Luxembourg has adopted a new law on radiation protection which aims to strengthen the radiation protection rules applicable in the Grand Duchy. The two parties discussed the progress made in the implementation of their respective plans on health risks linked to radon, both in individual homes and in public places.
As part of continued discussions on the various aspects of Franco-Luxembourg cooperation in nuclear safety, the two parties will meet again in 2022, in Luxembourg, for the 20th edition of these meetings.