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France

French nuclear power safe, says report

AFP

France’s Nuclear Safety Authority has given the country’s nuclear installations a clean bill of health. Its annual report, presented to the French Parliament on Wednesday, declared them “fairly satisfactory” and officials say that is a pass mark in the nuclear exam.

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The report looks at the record for 2010 but, in the light of Japan’s nuclear accident, Prime Minister François Fillon has told it to audit France’s 58 nuclear reactors.

The report said that French power company EDF needs to improve maintenance of some of its reactors and the oversight of its 20,000 contractors.

But overall, authority head Andre-Claude Lacoste told RFI that the safety record over the last year has been “fairly satisfactory”.

“We are a regulatory authority, so we are not at all being paid to be enthusiastic,” Lacoste says. “So from us, ‘fairly satisfactory’ is a positive assessment.”

But, he adds, “we can’t pretend nothing happened in Japan … And it makes sense for us to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.”

The new audit should take into account issues raised by the Japanese crisis, including earthquake and flood risks, power and cooling system failures, or a combination of all of these.

"How do you deal with an accumulation of these kinds of problems?” Lacoste asks. “It’s a subject that until now we have not taken into consideration.”

The first conclusions of the audit should be published by the end of the year.
 

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