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      Framatome supplies equipment and services to many sectors, both in France and abroad, i.e. nuclear fuel, engineering, major projects, reactor components, nuclear instrumentation, reactor safety C&I systems, and nuclear facility maintenance. Most of these activities have a significant impact on nuclear safety.

      General Inspectorate of Framatome

      The role of the General Inspectorate (IG) is to provide the Framatome CEO with an assessment of the health of nuclear safety in its operational entities, in France and overseas. The IG is headed by an Inspector General who is assisted by four inspectors.
      The IG also performs independent oversight of the organisation in nuclear safety, radiation protection, process safety, industrial safety, and environment. Its activities are defined in a yearly programme, which is submitted to the Framatome executive committee.
      During its inspections, the IG issues recommendations for the relevant business units to incorporate into their action plans. Progress is regularly checked by follow-up inspections.
      The IG also conducts site visits to assess how nuclear safety and industrial safety are perceived by employees at all levels and across all disciplines, through informal interviews conducted without the presence of line managers.

      Standardising NSSS components

      Introduced in 2020, the objectives of this approach are two-fold; firstly, to “do it right first time”, by integrating the manufacturing conditions of mechanical components at the design stage, and secondly, to simplify by proposing a design standard that will be used for all future projects from 2023, including those intended for export. The initiative relies on two programmes.
      The first investigates the standardisation of EPR2 equipment and is considered as the benchmark. Using previous manufacturing OPEX, the manufacturability of this equipment has been analysed, and the standardisation processes have been consolidated by integrating them into system engineering practices.
      The second involves defining a design standard with two configurations: “EPR1”, corresponding to EPRs already built or under construction, and “EPR2”, corresponding to future projects.
      This standardisation approach has also been extended to reactor safety C&I systems.

      Stress corrosion task force (CSC)

      Since the announcement of the discovery of this issue, Framatome has mobilised teams and resources to support EDF. The objectives of this task force are as follows:

      • Examine the samples collected from the fleet in Framatome’s hot cell laboratories
      • Contributing to the root-cause analysis of the issue
      • Substantiate defect tolerances using mechanical calculations
      • Develop a non-destructive testing process to characterise the defects according to the different circuit geometries
      • Develop an automatic welding process to mitigate the stress corrosion risk
      • Help to replace the systems impacted by stress corrosion (Bugey 4 and Chooz B1 in particular).

      Given the radiological conditions and the heavy workload associated with these activities, with EDF’s agreement, Framatome has drafted in support from their American and Canadian partners. Some 140 welders, machine tool operators, pipe fitters and worksite coordinators arrived in France in the summer of 2022 and have been trained by Framatome at their Chalon facility.

      More in-depth analysis of significant events

      The analysis appraisal committee reviewed 8 reports from significant events in the areas of nuclear safety, industrial safety and the environment. These appraisals lack depth and do not identify all the root causes. They also fail to consistently take account of the organisational and human factors, with very few field operators being involved in the preparation of these event reports.

      Nuclear safety results

      No INES Level 2 event or higher was declared in 2022. The number of Level 1 events (4) fell this year with the reduction in the number of criticality events.

      Trend in the number of INES events

      This reflects the positive impact of the action plan launched in 2021 at the Romans-sur-Isère facility. The IG will continue to monitor this ongoing improvement closely throughout 2023.

      There has been an increase (8 in 2022, 3 in 2021 and 2 in 2020) in the number of radiation protection events involving Framatome employees working at EDF facilities (in the BU Installed Base (IB)). Action with staff must be taken.

      One of these INES Level 0 events involved a printer fire that broke out on 21 September 2022 in a workshop at the CERCA facility at Romans-sur-Isère. The site triggered its emergency response plan for the very first time and the fire was extinguished by the on-site fire safety teams. No radioactive material was affected by the fire. This emergency was handled extremely well, with no impact on operators or the environment.

      Trend in accident frequency indicator rates

      On the subject of integrating new subsidiaries, the support offered by 3SEP and the respective BU, through in-field visits in particular, is helping to raise awareness of the importance of nuclear safety and industrial safety among newly integrated staff. The IG will be inspecting Framatome ARC on the subject of industrial safety in 2023.

      Inspection of a steam generator spacer plate at Saint Marcel

      However, coordination of improvement actions, monitoring of authorisations and qualifications, and operational management of chemical products at both the CEDOS and CEMO facilities could be more efficient.

      Human performance tools are rarely used at the two DTI-run facilities. An action plan must be implemented swiftly to remove the accumulated waste at Erlangen.

      The 5S continuous improvement strategy relating to the working environment and conditions remains to be implemented at the IB site.

      Finally, independent nuclear safety oversight must be implemented at the German sites.

      Managing equipment conformity

      Following several equipment-related events, Framatome launched a plan to validate and improve equipment conformity at the end of 2021. The IG inspected four sites on this subject.

      I note that all four sites had the correct arrangements to monitor this issue. Responsibilities were clearly defined, regulatory training requirements were met, emergency evacuation procedures exist for staff working on machinery, and the necessary physical and organisational arrangements are in place.

      The main areas for improvement relate to: the lack of operational safety instructions at workstations and equipment conformity documentation; overdue periodic checks; consideration of regulatory requirements when investing in new machinery.

      Consolidating equipment conformity

      Framatome introduced a programme to assess and restore equipment compliance after non-conformities were confirmed on several machines. This assessment defined the corrective actions to be implemented by the BUs and identified the required compensatory operational measures. Framatome has also started to assess the remaining service life of bridge cranes in the wake of a fatal accident that occurred at a Ugitech plant in January 2022. This assessment began in 2022 and will continue through 2023. It is based on OPEX from port facilities and covers all bridge cranes that have been in service for more than 19 years. Their remaining service life and any additional operating checks required will be defined.

      Managing competences and qualifications at Rugles

      The Rugles plant was inspected on its ability to manage and predict the competences and qualifications needed for its operations. I have seen evidence of close collaboration between managers and HR in this area. The needs are being predicted by appropriate systems and critical skills are being monitored very closely.

      I advise Rugles to ensure that the roles, qualifications, authorisations and training that represent the greatest challenges to nuclear safety, industrial safety and quality are more clearly identified. Selfassessments of the nuclear safety culture must also be performed.

      Industrial risk management at Lynchburg

      This American site, which comes under the BU IB, has satisfactory industrial safety and radiation protection results. Risk analyses are conducted for production and maintenance activities. Non-conformities are recorded, and improvement actions are monitored closely.

      I note, however, that the independent oversight arrangements required by Framatome have not been implemented, and that chemical hazard management could be improved. Sub-contractors must be systematically informed of the risks involved with the operations assigned to them.

      Classification of outstanding recommendations

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