The French nuclear safety authority, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), has published the report of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Pre-Operational Safety Review Team (Pre-OSART) mission conducted last year at the Flamanville 3 EPR. The mission team identified eight good practices and made six recommendations and 15 suggestions.

The Flamanville 3 EPR in Normandy, France (Image: Alexis Morin and Antoine Soubigou / EDF)

Pre-OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA's Safety Standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate. The review covered the areas of: leadership and management for safety; training and qualification; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency preparedness and response; accident management; human, technology and organisational interactions; and commissioning.

At the request of the French government, the mission to the Flamanville EPR was conducted from 17 June to 4 July 2019. The team comprised experts from Canada, Finland, Germany, Russia, Spain, Sweden, USA, and IAEA staff members, as well as observers from Russia and South Korea.

Before visiting the plant, the team studied information provided by the IAEA and Flamanville unit 3 to familiarise themselves with the plant's main features and current performance, staff organisation and responsibilities, and important programmes and procedures. During the mission, the team examined indicators of the plant's performance, observed work in progress and held in-depth discussions with plant personnel.

In its report, the team identified a number of good practices, including a liaison officer dedicated to operating experience at the sister plant in Taishan, China for in-depth operating experience sharing. The IAEA team also noted the use of a 'post-Fukushima Box' for fuel handling in adverse conditions, and the effective implementation of a holistic human factors approach throughout the life cycle of the plant.

The mission made several recommendations to improve operational safety at the unit. These included that the plant should fully implement its foreign material exclusion programme throughout all departments and areas to attain a high level of implementation. The plant should also consider implementing procedures and practices to ensure that the potential impact of unsecured items on safety-related equipment in seismically qualified areas is minimised. The team also recommended the plant improve measures and practices aimed at ensuring the integrity of the fire barriers and rapid extinguishing of fires.

"The conclusions of the mission concerning the Flamanville 3 EPR are essentially positive and acknowledge the involvement of site management in improving operating safety and reliability," ASN said.

ASN noted the recommendations and suggestions are laid down in a dedicated action plan, the results of which will be assessed through a follow-up mission scheduled for March 2021. "The conclusions of the mission are moreover taken into account by ASN in its own oversight actions," it added.

In December 2018, unit 1 of the Taishan plant in China's Guangdong province became the first EPR to enter commercial operation. Taishan 2 began commercial operation in September 2019. Construction of the Olkiluoto 3 EPR in Finland began in 2005, with completion of the reactor originally scheduled for 2009. However, with various delays and setbacks, fuel loading is now planned for later this year. The loading of fuel into the Flamanville EPR in France, construction of which began in December 2007, is now scheduled for the end of 2022. Two EPR units are also under construction at the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, England.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 08 August 2020
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