INTERVIEW. Cyril Hisbacq, director of the Golfech nuclear power plant: “The culture of safety guides us at all times”

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A national nuclear safety exercise simulating an accident will take place in Golfech on 7 and 8 June. Based on a fictitious scenario not known to the participants, it aims to test crisis organization and contingency plans. While this Thursday, June 1, an information meeting is organized for the attention of the population of the 106 communes of Tarn-et-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne and Gers located within the perimeter of the plant, the director of Golfech CNPE Cyril Hisbacq recalls the extent to which the culture of safety is enforced on a daily basis by the site’s 330 on-call employees.

This Thursday a public information meeting is held in Golfech (1) to present the national exercise on nuclear safety on 7 and 8 June to the populations concerned. For the CNPE, what are the challenges of this exercise?

Crisis drills are important times when our teams undergo in-depth training in our crisis organizations and incident procedures. We do this training with all national and regional stakeholders, including the Nuclear Safety Authority and state services. It also allows us to strengthen our cooperation.

The EDF and the state crisis organizations are coordinated and operate in a mirror image. These are two closely related plans, the internal emergency plan (PUI) and the specific intervention plan (PPI).

On June 7, during the nuclear safety exercise, the teams of the Golfech plant will simulate a PUI. This system will in particular make it possible to mobilize the technical and human resources needed to control the situation at plant level and limit the consequences for the population and the environment. 132 trained and licensed watch team members will be mobilized throughout the day at the power plant with many actors up to the highest level of the EDF group. The prefectures of the departments of Tarn-et-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne and Gers will be heavily involved.

In addition to this national exercise, which is organized by regulation every 5 years in all nuclear power plants, do you regularly carry out training courses on crisis management?

Our mission is to produce electricity safely. We carry out this activity with vigilance on a daily basis, in particular through a strong surveillance of our structures and the rigorous application of the principle of the “culture of safety”. This is based, among other things, on the professionalism of the employees, on verifying the correct functioning of the equipment, on the checks carried out internally by EDF and the ASN and on taking into account feedback on experience. Crisis management training also contributes to this.

Every year we carry out around ten exercises at the plant by simulating the activation of a PUI. Our 330 trained on-call employees can thus train. Independently of these exercises, the personnel responsible for operating our reactors train several days a year on the flight simulator, an identical replica of the control room, to guarantee the safety of the installations in the event of an event.

The reconnection to the national electricity grid of the production unit n.1 is expected in a few weeks.

Mid-year, where are we with the closure? On what date should unit n.1 restart?

The production unit n.1 is still closed for the third decennial visit. The preventive replacement of the safety injection circuit pipes was carried out a few weeks ago, according to the EDF Group strategy validated by ASN to deal with the phenomenon of stress corrosion cracking. At the beginning of May, in the presence of the ASN inspectors, our teams successfully carried out the hydraulic test of the reactor’s main primary circuit, one of the three ten-year regulatory inspections, which paves the way for the latest planned activities. The reconnection to the national electricity grid of the production unit n.1 is expected in a few weeks.

Production unit 2 was also shut down for a few months to replace a third of the fuel and around 7,000 maintenance and equipment checks. During this shutdown, the same will be done for reactor No. 1 with the preventive replacement of the safety injection circuit pipes to deal with the stress corrosion cracking phenomenon. Construction is underway. The reconnection to the national electricity grid of the production unit n.2 is scheduled for the beginning of September 2023.

Read also:
What you need to know about the national nuclear safety exercise that will be organized on June 7 and 8 in Golfech

Does the CNPE Golfech continue to recruit within the Grand carénage? If yes, in which professions and which skills are you looking for?

The Grand Carénage of the plant constitutes a real economic opportunity for the area, as evidenced by the 241 million euros of orders placed with companies in the region between the beginning of 2020 and March 2023. This major project also represents a real job opportunity. Since 2019, more than 266 jobs have been created within partner companies, many of them in the logistics sector. This figure is also significant and testifies to the commitment of our EDF teams and especially Pôle emploi and GIE Atlantique to present nuclear works to a diverse audience.

Today there is always a need for expertise particularly in specific areas that can be judged to be in tension. I can mention trades such as boilermaker, welder, plumber, electrician or maintenance man. When you work in the nuclear industry, you have the opportunity to experience an exceptional technical and human adventure. I therefore invite all those who are motivated to join us.

The FR-Alert device tested for the first time

On the occasion of this national nuclear safety exercise on June 7 and 8, the new alert system IT-Alarm will be tested for the first time. It allows you to send notifications to mobile phones of people in an area exposed to danger. Thus, on 7 June, 150,000 text messages will be sent to the inhabitants of the three departments affected by the extraordinary intervention plan (PPI) of the Golfech plant. We recall that the exercise of June 7 and 8, organized by regulation every 5 years in all nuclear power plants in France, will have no impact on the population. No one will be evacuated these days.

(1) This meeting will be held on Thursday 1 June at 7 pm in the Calypso multipurpose hall in Golfech.

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