The current AVN was originally established in 1969 as the nuclear department of “Vinçotte”, the license holder for regulatory activities in Belgian nuclear power plants.
Specifically, AVN assessed and then controlled the safety of the seven nuclear power plants.
As Belgium was the first country to require Periodic Safety Reviews (every ten years), AVN developed that concept and its content in the early eighties, taking into account the operating experience of the oldest US nuclear power plants (Ginna, etc.). The first applications were in 1985, for Doel 1 and 2 and Tihange 1.
In 1990, the department became the “Association Vinçotte Nuclear”, keeping its status as a non-profit organization as required by Belgian law so as to be recognized as a body authorized by the Belgian Ministries.
AVN left the Vinçotte Group in 1995.
In 1996, AVN merged with another independent inspection agency, CORAPRO, which had expanded its services and was also licensed to perform inspections in nuclear installations other than power plants.
Since 2003, AVN has been designated ISO 9001, certified to perform and evaluate nuclear safety and radiation protection analyses and to provide expertise in these areas.
Through its activities in several international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Technical Safety Organizations Network (ETSON), the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCDE), and its participation in various European projects, AVN has contributed to the effort to increase safety levels at nuclear installations and maintained a high level of expertise to provide its clients with state-of-the-art services.
For example, AVN was very active in the Nuclear Safety Standards Committee (NUSSC), created by the IAEA in 1996 for the purpose of developing complete and coherent guidelines for all aspects of nuclear safety.
AVN has shared its experience with the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) by participating in its Expert Groups (for Reactors and Equipment Under Pressure) because currently operating French nuclear power plants are all Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR), as are Belgian units.
As a result of political decisions, the activities of the “Control” branch of AVN had to be transferred, on April 14th 2008, to the Subsidiary BEL V of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), created at that time. Since then BEL V has taken over control of the nuclear installation inspections formerly performed by AVN.
Today AVN helps develop nuclear safety and radiation protection by sponsoring research in different fields such as medical applications and materials knowledge, and evaluating potential events in nuclear installations such as severe accidents, in deterministic or probabilistic studies.