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Risks and spatial planning

The partner interview

Thierry Perichon Assystem Project Director

Portrait et citation
Thierry Perichon Assystem Project Director
Assystem called on BRGM to provide expertise in the field of seismic risks as part of a project to qualify a site in Saudi Arabia for the construction of nuclear power reactors.

The Assystem project involved archaeoseismological work on sites affected by earthquakes in ancient times. © BRGM

What was your business problem?

Thierry Perichon —  The Assystem group delivers expertise in the engineering and management of critical and complex infrastructure projects in the energy and infrastructure sectors. We work for global industrial operators, primarily in the field of nuclear technology. We signed a contract with a Saudi Arabian government department to assess the feasibility of building and operating nuclear reactors, and in particular to assess and quantify earthquake-related risks and their potential impact on the design of the facilities. Assystem called on BRGM to provide expertise in the fields of seismic risk, seismotectonics and geophysics. Around ten BRGM experts were involved in the project, working alongside our teams.

What skills were you looking for? 

T.P. — Characterising a site in accordance with the criteria set out in IAEA safety standards is a process involving a range of field investigations and studies, particularly in the field of seismology. We needed complementary skills and expertise to help our client factor these issues and risks into the management of their nuclear programme, in relation to the international community, reactor manufacturers and the Saudi nuclear safety authority.

How did the collaboration go and what was the outcome?

T.P. — This is our first collaboration with BRGM. BRGM is one of the world’s two best geological surveys. It has already provided this type of assistance and technical support to nuclear operators and the nuclear safety authority in France. It also has detailed knowledge of this area, since it was involved in the founding of the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), and in the mapping of the region. And at the same time, it has excellent connections with the Saudi scientific community in geology and geophysics. 

The technical objective here was to remove any doubts by studying the seismic history of the site in order to create models and determine impact probabilities. This involved conducting archaeoseismological studies on nearby sites that have already been affected by earthquakes. For example, BRGM dated soil samples with beryllium to look for traces of earthquake impacts. We can sum up the results in a few words: strong technical expertise, excellent credibility, a real ability to adapt to the context with flexibility and agility and, above all, smooth and pleasant interpersonal relations.