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    Michel-Hubert Jamard

    MHJamardSenior Executive Vice President Communications  

     

    What was your reaction to the natural disaster in Japan on March 11 and the subsequent accident at Fukushima?

    We have been deeply moved by the consequences of the tsunami, which have caused thousands of victims. AREVA immediately decided to make a donation of one million euros to the Japanese Red Cross.

    The courage Japan has shown and is still showing in the face of this disaster and the determination it brings to mobilizing disaster aid compels admiration and respect.

    Has AREVA been involved in the recovery operations at Fukushima?

    Immediately after the nuclear problems occurred, AREVA has provided support to Japan through assistance to emergency workers and personnel working near the Fukushima nuclear power plant and to its customer Tepco. In particular, AREVA chartered two airplanes to send radiation monitoring and protection equipment to Japan as well as emergency aid as part of a multi-partner initiative (3,000 activated charcoal protective masks, 21,000 overalls and more than 20,000 gloves, 185 tons of boric acid, radioactivity detection equipment). A third airplane left with foods and survival equipments to support the rescue teams' actions.

    In addition to the material assistance, AREVA has provided a strong technical support to the Japanese utilities by mobilizing its experts. Several high-ranked specialists went to Japan to help in their areas of expertise (decontamination of water/effluents, used fuel, the management of used fuel storage pools, etc.).

    Following a request from Tepco, AREVA proposed a solution to treat most of the contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

    Backed by large teams in France, Germany and the United States, the experts teams sent to Japan proposed a method based on a co-precipitation concept. Developed by AREVA and implemented in partnership with Veolia Water in less than 10 weeks, the process uses special chemical reagents to separate and recover the radioactive elements.

    Thanks to the large-capacity treatment plant equipped with the co-precipitation process, more than 77,000 m3 of highly radioactive water have been treated successfully. 

    The AREVA teams are now working on other fields of expertise, including spent fuel recovery and soil decontamination, and will propose technical and tailored solutions to Tepco and the Japanese authorities.

    What actions has AREVA carried out in response to Fukushima and what can be done at existing nuclear plants to ensure their safety in response to learning from Fukushima?

    AREVA has been closely monitoring, evaluating and responding to the unfolding events associated with the historic earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan. From that perspective, the group has implemented an immediate and transversal initiative to realign some items with our commercial portfolio to be more responsive to the emergent needs of our industry. 

    This "Safety Alliance framework" provides a structure for analyzing safety issues after Fukushima, and for assembling the solutions needed to address them. To this end, AREVA is deploying a catalog of Safety Alliance products and solutions to help utilities to prepare, preserve and protect their fleets now and for years to come.

    What does the nuclear industry as a whole need to do in response to Fukushima?  

    The accident has raised legitimate questions and the nuclear industry has to give appropriate answers.  The debate on nuclear power is a legitimate one: and we will take part in it. AREVA is open to dialogue and debate. For ten years, we have proactively carried out a policy of transparency, dialogue and information on our operations towards every segment of the public, including the media, elected representatives, local information commissions, prefectures, citizen debates, and others. More than ever, we will listen and educate in order to maintain and restore the trust we were able to build with all of our stakeholders.

    What features do new reactor designs offer to address the issues faced at Fukushima?

    All nuclear incidents and accidents have resulted from an unexpectedly complex sequence of events that demand an equally diverse range of response. In order to avoid a severe accident, AREVA reactor designs leverage both active and passive technologies to provide complementary, diverse and redundant safety systems that fulfill essential safety functions of reactor control, core cooling and confinement of radioactive substances. 

    Events in Japan have shown that even very unlikely events with dramatic consequences occur. AREVA reactors are all designed to cope with a worst-case scenario ( determistic approach).

    The AREVA fleet meets the higher standards in terms of safety and security. Our reactors benefit from 40 years of research and international lessons learned from construction and operation. From the beginning of the design process, the reactors were conceived to meet the most stringent safety requirements.  

    AREVA's reactors belongs to the III+ generation and are designed to face major events. With the EPR™, ATMEA1™ and KERENA™ reactors, AREVA offers a new generation of reactors that are the safest in the world.  

    To withstand a major earthquake, as it was the case in Japan, the nuclear island of the reactor is supported by a thick, monolithic slab foundation made of reinforced concrete. The buildings are also as low as possible, and the heavy equipment and water tanks are located on the lowest levels.

    The buildings are also protected with a double containment made of concrete. Safety system equipment is also subjected to myriad qualification tests, in particular seismic resistance tests using a variety of calculation models and methods to simulate an earthquake with
    vibration tables. 

    In the case of the EPR™ reactor, it should be noted that four cooling systems are located in four different buildings of the power plant.  

    More generally, with its advanced safety systems, the EPR reactor can:  

    • withstand air attacks, in particular through the use of a thick outer shell made of reinforced concrete that covers the reactor and fuel buildings plus two of the four safeguard buildings;
    • withstand earthquakes, since the EPR™ reactor's nuclear island is protected by a thick, monolithic slab foundation made of reinforced concrete, the buildings are as low as possible, and the equipment and water tanks are located on the lowest levels;
    • limit the consequences of an offsite accident through an optimum combination of passive and active safety systems.  

     Has Fukushima changed your opinion of nuclear power?  

    This accident does not call into question our position on the energy mix with the promotion of low-carbon energies, as the issues of energy independence, growing demand for electricity driven by global demographics, and climate change have not changed. Low-carbon energies  such as nuclear power are key components of that mix for the constant supply of baseload electricity.

    Transparency, safety and security have always formed the core of our group's values and will remain so. Continuous improvement is written into the group's strategy. 

    What do you now see as the future for nuclear power?

    The accident raises legitimate questions and concerns. All the lessons must be drawn from it in terms of nuclear safety.  The issues of energy demand and energy mix against a backdrop of global warming have not changed as a result of the recent events in Japan. They're still there: twice as much electricity will have to be generated in 2050 with half as many CO2 releases to the atmosphere if the temperature on the Earth's surface is to be stabilized. It's unreasonable to expect the energy mix in different nations to shift to an "all renewable energies" one.

    The Fukushima accident creates legitimate concern, and the impacts on our operations will be mixed: new business will probably develop following the so-called "stress tests"; other services related to replacement of existing reactors may be delayed. It's not about being in an industry in decline but dealing with this period of uncertainty before all projects start again. 

    As far as the accident's impact on the nuclear industry's image is concerned, it must be admitted that there will be one after Fukushima. The accident triggered strong reactions in a limited number of countries as Germany and it is our responsibility to continue to engage in dialogue with our stakeholders and to strengthen it.