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Myths and representations in French nuclear history: The impact on decommissioning safety

Abstract : The mythology surrounding atomic power, which makes reference to its omnipotent energy or devastating catastrophic fire, has, since the 1950s fed the collective imagination and public debate in nuclearised societies. Although it can be assumed these debates have little in common with the operational realities of managers, the recent accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has shown that in many countries the debate on the withdrawal of nuclear power may lead to political decisions that have an impact on the entire population. The decommissioning of many operational plants (whether because nuclear power is being withdrawn, or because plants have become obsolete) has had an impact on the representations shared by actors in these organizations. Decommissioning operations have the effect of creating a tension between ideas of "deconstruction" and those of production. In this special phase of the plant's life cycle, interactions between actors play a key role in the construction of a shared system of representations, which is based on both a new organizational culture and a shared safety culture. These shared representations are at the origin of a cognitive consensus that must facilitate action and decision-making within organizations. This article is a historical study of representations of nuclear energy in France from the post-war period to the modern day. It first highlights the strength of myths and representations found in the design and construction phases of nuclear technology. The second part of this article shows how myths and representations affect decisions that are taken during the decommissioning of facilities. Finally, the third part of this analysis describes the consequences of these systems of representation on the morale of actors involved in decommissioning and the construction of a shared decommissioning culture.
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 2:45:33 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-00868830, version 1


Christophe Martin, Aurélien Portelli, Franck Guarnieri. Myths and representations in French nuclear history: The impact on decommissioning safety. 22nd European Safety and Reliability Conference - ESREL 2013, Sep 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 758 p. - ISBN 9781138001237. ⟨hal-00868830⟩



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