Judicial information against X was recently opened at the Marseille Public Health Center, targeting a dozen violations of the Penal Code and the Environmental Code for facts running from the beginning of 2017 to the end of 2021, AFP learned from from a source close to the investigation.
Among them, “non-declaration of an incident or accident”, “endangering others”, “forgery and use of forgery”, “discharge into water by manifestly deliberate violation of an obligation of care of ‘a substance causing harmful effects’, ‘obstructing the control of nuclear safety inspectors’ or ‘moral harassment’.
The Marseille prosecutor’s office confirmed to AFP the existence of this judicial information.
In the midst of a debate on the place of nuclear power in France that President Emmanuel Macron wishes to increase, “Hugo” (assumed name), a former executive of the power station who has since requested the status of whistleblower, had filed a complaint. in October 2021 against EDF and members of its hierarchy.
He accused them of having placardized him for having denounced a “policy of concealment” of security incidents.
Various anomalies – such as overpowering of reactor no. 1 in June 2017 or even internal flooding on August 29, 2018 on unit no. 3 – would not have been declared to the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) or would have been been so as to “minimize the events”, according to his complaint.
– “Extreme gravity” –
Immediately entrusting the investigations to an investigating judge “translates the extreme gravity of the facts denounced by our client, who had alerted his employer and warned the Ministry of Ecology in vain”, reacted to AFP his lawyers Vincent Brengarth and William Bourdon.
“The opening of a judicial investigation for such qualifications, against a leading economic operator, constitutes an exceptional decision”, they added.
“It’s a good sign that justice is giving, but will it have the means to go all the way?” Questioned Roland Desbordes, spokesperson for the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (Criirad).
“This affair calls into question the French nuclear safety system (…): we can clearly see the limit when difficulties arise, we prevent people from speaking, the ASN is not aware of everything or close your eyes sometimes,” lamented Charlotte Mijeon, spokesperson for Sortir du Nucléaire.
This network had filed a complaint against EDF in 2019 following a flood in Tricastin.
Joining EDF in 2004, Hugo became head of service at Tricastin in September 2016. But, according to his complaint, the climate quickly proved to be “particularly tense, in view of the ten-year inspection”, a decisive step in obtaining authorization for continue operating beyond forty years.
“A number of incidents within the plant took place, contributing to the deterioration of relations” between Hugo and his superior, according to the complaint.
The executive, today awaiting assignment, told AFP that he had already sent “hundreds of pages” to justice proving, according to him, “concealments”, “minimizations” or “falsifications” on “nuclear safety , the environment, accidentology or the labor code” within the plant.
– EDF “takes note” –
EDF, for its part, told AFP “takes (re) note” of the opening of an investigation and reaffirmed that the safety of nuclear power plants was its “priority”.
“EDF therefore wishes to oppose a formal denial of the accusations made against it and that of the management of the Tricastin power plant, relating to an alleged policy of concealment of events, the general non-compliance with procedures and the existence of intimidation towards the independent security sector”, recalls the company.
ASN did not react immediately either, but in November, Christophe Quintin, ASN chief inspector, told AFP that the inspections at Tricastin had “not led to the observation of any events that would have been concealed”.
This plant, commissioned in 1980 and 1981, is one of the oldest in France.
The opening of this investigation comes at a time when EDF is facing serious corrosion problems in its nuclear fleet. To date, 12 out of 56 reactors are shut down for a proven or suspected “stress corrosion” phenomenon, the group detailed on May 19.
These difficulties arise as the group faces several crucial challenges for its future: ensuring France’s environmental transition and energy sovereignty, in the midst of the war in Ukraine.