Engineer calls out safety failures at one of France’s oldest nuclear plants

·2-min read

A senior engineer at the Tricastin nuclear plant in south-eastern France has filed a lawsuit against the EDF group and the plant’s management for allegedly covering up security failures and endangering the lives of others. The group refutes the accusations.

News of the lawsuit was reported in Friday’s Le Monde daily, just days after President Emmanuel Macron announced France would restart building new plants.

The 42-year-old senior manager at the Tricastin site in the Drôme department filed the complaint on 5 October for breach of nuclear site regulations, environmental and labour code, endangering the lives of others, and harassment.

The file cites a number of security incidents at the plant, notably the over-powering of the main reactor in June 2017 and flooding of several premises, including one of the plant’s electrical buildings, in the summer of 2018.

EDF (Electricité de France) which oversees France’s 56 nuclear reactors, is required to report all safety incidents to France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN).

But the engineer says they had either been “covered up”, “minimised” or “reported late”.

Licence renewal

The incidents took place as the plant was preparing for a major inspection to renew its operating licence for a further 10 years.

The engineer refused to keep quiet and reported the incidents to management, the EDF group and ASN.

He claims this led to harassment and he was moved to a less sensitive post.

“It was because he denounced what looked like a policy of dissimulation and refused to agree to operations aimed at maintaining opacity on some incidents that he was pushed out in an extremely brutal and unjustified way,” the employee’s lawyers William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth wrote in the complaint.

EDF declined to comment on “comments from an employee” but told Le Monde the safety of plants was “a priority” and that “transparency and respect for regulations are scrupulously applied and respected on all of (our) sites”.

The ASN, quoted by Le Monde, contested any cover up and said its monitoring work was being carried out correctly.

In September 2017, Tricastin had to temporarily shut down its four reactors after ASN identified a significant safety event.

Read also:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting