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samedi 13 décembre 2014

The Financial Court highlights weaknesses in the management of the Nuclear Safety Institute

Les Échos 10/12/14
The Financial Court highlights weaknesses in the management of the Nuclear Safety Institute
Logo IRSN courtesy wikimedia

VERONIQUE LE BILLON DEPUTY HEAD OF DIVISION – 10/12
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In a report released on Wednesday, the Financial Court highlighted weaknesses in the management of the Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN, French acronym) - SIPA
Every link of the command chain has been thoroughly examined.
The IRSN is at the centre of concerns for the Financial Court. In a report released on Wednesday, the Financial Court criticized the governance of this public body with industrial and commercial functions, with a 1,750 staff and a € 300 million budget. This institute is the controlling body of the Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (Authority of Nuclear Safety), and as such, implements all controls decided by this Authority.
Every link of the command chain has been criticized. First of all, the IRSN reports to five ministries (Environment, Economy, Defence, Health and Research). “ These reporting authorities don’t do a real strategic management of the Institute”, the judges wrote. They added : “ the number of reporting authorities does not facilitate the progress of important issues” ; furthermore, “their control over the management is not enough implemented”. Then, the managing board of IRSN is also targeted: the Court estimates that “this board does not play its role as a decision-oriented body and is not enough involved in the control over the financial management”. Then, the general direction is qualified as “omnipotent”. In fact, there is no duration limit for the position of general manager – as it is the case in other public body with industrial and commercial functions - there are rivalries with the ASN and “autonomous communication operations which are not compatible with the principles upon which the Institute is based”. Even if “the Fukushima incident has increased the IRSN’s scientific reliability and authority”, the release of a study about the costs of a possible nuclear incident arose doubts.


IRSN present rules will be revised
In his response to the Court’s observations, the Prime Minister said that a revision of the present rules is in course and will target first the limitation of the duration of the general manager’s mandate. Such measure may be a pre-condition to Jacques Repussard’s mandate, who is leading the Institute since 2003 and who will be sixty five in January. Then the Court looked at the IRSN financial situation. “Without being difficult, the financial position is questionable. The main indicators give the illusion that there is a good margin, but this one is counterbalanced by financial commitments (such as Cabri, Feursmetal, and other real estates projects), which will reduce the financial flexibility in the coming years”, the judges wrote later in their report.