French nuclear regulators, who based their findings on a 2010 generic review of reactors, say they have found no "generic elements" that would compromise the safety of the country's 20 operating 1300 megawatt electrical (MWe) nuclear reactors over a 40-year operating life, reports World Nuclear News.

The assessments do not take into account any evaluations of the fitness of the units' reactor pressure vessels for operation beyond 30 years, nor the results of tests carried out during the reactors' third 10-year inspections, which are due to begin in April and will take until 2024 to complete.

The regulatory authority, Autorité De Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), says that modifications identified by Electricité de France (EDF) to improve protection against attack, reduce radioactive emissions in the case of an accident and prevent the risk of dewatering of fuel storage pools would lead to significant improvements in safety.

French nuclear licensing laws require a reactor's operator to perform an in-depth review of safety at each unit every 10 years. The exercise includes two elements: a compliance review and a safety review; these will be designed to ensure that safety practices are up-to-date with current requirements and incorporate international best practices.

The ASN monitors plants in between their 10-year inspections and can suspend the operation of any reactor in the event of a serious or imminent risk.

To contact the author of this article, email