• Orano: Compliance is good for business

  • Dominique Guilloteau has been working for Orano for over 30 years, especially in La Hague and Marcoule sites.

    He is currently senior vice-president for Safety, Health, Security and Sustainable Development and has been working closely with the French nuclear safety authority for the French installations of Orano.


    4-minute read

  • Safety compliance is a top priority for nuclear industry, yet a complex challenge. On the one hand, it has to be coordinated with competitiveness and on the other hand, it has to address the triple challenge of the regulation’s evolution, the ageing management of facilities and the persistence of the safety culture. 


    These are all areas where Orano, the Paris-based multinational energy company, has considerable expertise which it uses for the benefit of its customers around the world.


    Dominique Guilloteau, senior vice-president for Safety, Health, Security and Sustainable Development, said Orano’s operations in many highly regulated markets give it a broad insight.


    Orano is one of the few companies worldwide with operations at every step of the nuclear cycle, including fuel reprocessing. It’s an advantage when it comes to helping customers plan activities at any stage of the cycle.


    It also helps that Orano’s home market, France, has some of the most stringent regulations in the industry.


    After Fukushima, all nuclear countries like France significantly strengthened their regulations governing defences against earthquakes, flooding and tornadoes to ensure all facilities were robust.


    Guilloteau said Orano, then part of Areva, assessed its installations to determine the work each needed to meet the new criteria. With sites that had been running 30-40 years, the process involved comparing the current state of buildings and materials with the original engineering plans and design life.


    Proactive on aging facilities


    At Orano’s waste management facility in La Hague, Normandy, which treats nuclear used fuel from all over the world, Orano decided to proceed to an accelerated replacement of evaporators after a risk management analysis showed accelerated trend corrosion. “It’s a big investment,” said Guilloteau, “and will take 3-4 years.” 


    “We’re very proactive on aging facilities,” he added.


    Across the three sites of its recycling platform in France, which as well as La Hague include the Melox plant in south-east France and Georges Besse II Tricastin in the Rhone valley, the company spends about 300 million euros every year to maintain and upgrade safety conditions.


    Orano has shared its expertise in designing, building and operating reprocessing plants with customers in various countries including China, for which it conducted studies, and Japan, where it has already contributed to the plant design.


    The company has also accumulated significant expertise in dismantling projects, both for its own installations and customers in France, the UK and the US. Managing complex radio-chemical environments also benefits the dismantling activities of nuclear power plants, where Orano capabilities have been leveraged on several occasions in Germany and the US.  


    Compliance with French standards


    Safety is part of Orano’s ‘corporate DNA’, and the company works constantly to maintain and improve its safety culture. It operates in full compliance with French standards which reach the most stringent level of safety.


    “What we offer to customers everywhere are designs that comply with the highest requirements,” said Guilloteau. “The responsibility is too great to drop our safety level.


    “The customer who decides to operate a nuclear facility can have confidence that the equipment, conception etc is of the highest level.


    “This is a big advantage for us too.”


    Root cause is people


    However, continuous and collective improvement is a constant focus, as Orano has about 100 reportable safety events every year, 90% of which rank 0 under the French 0-7 rating system based on the severity of the incident, with the rest at level 1. “We find the root cause of 70% of these events is human factor – people and/or organisation – and the way the plant is operated,” said Guilloteau.


    This has prompted Orano to develop its Safety Excellence training programme to set standards for the safe performance of operations at all levels within the company. “We develop our future within our people,” he said, adding that the experience allows Orano to help other companies follow the same path.


    A part of the programme aimed at management is called Manager in the Field. It seeks to develop “real leadership” in nuclear safety and excellence by encouraging operational managers to spend more time with their teams, to experience safety issues so they can deliver more collective and operational solutions.

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