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Press Release 2011/03

IAEA Operational Safety Team (OSART) Reviews Progress at Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant, France

11 February 2011 | Fessenheim, France -- An international team of nuclear installation safety experts, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has evaluated the French Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) at Fessenheim to assess how the facility has followed up on an Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission undertaken in 2009.

The IAEA assembled a team of experts at the request of the Government of France to conduct the mission. Follow-up missions are standard components of the OSART programme and are conducted 18-24 months after the initial OSART mission. Under the leadership of the IAEA´s Division of Nuclear Installation Safety, the team performed its review from 7 to 11 February 2011. The team assessed how the Fessenheim NPP has addressed the recommendations and suggestions made during the 2009 OSART mission. The team was made up of experts from Slovakia, Switzerland and the IAEA.

The review covered the areas of Management, Organization and Administration; Training and Qualifications; Operations; Maintenance; Technical Support; Operating Experience; Radiation Protection; Chemistry and Emergency Planning and Preparedness. The conclusions of the follow-up review are based on the IAEA´s Safety Standards and proven good international practices.

There were 21 issues raised by the 2009 mission. During the follow-up mission, the team assessed that six issues had been resolved, thirteen had made satisfactory progress to date and two had made insufficient progress to date. "Resolved" describes action plans for improvement that have been fully implemented; "satisfactory progress to date" describes action plans that have been developed but are not yet fully implemented; and "insufficient progress to date" describes situations where additional consideration or strengthening of improvement plans is necessary.

Examples of issues falling into different resolution categories include:

  • The plant has resolved the suggestion to establish a process to review initial training materials on a regular basis. A systematic three-year training course revision program is in place now which ensures that the latest operating experience is used for learning purposes;
  • The plant has reached satisfactory progress in eliminating industrial safety hazards. Actions include installation of protective screens over hot pipes or equipment, installation of guards on rotating equipment and elimination of tripping hazards particularly due to loose extension cords; and
  • Insufficient progress has been made on the recommendation to have a person on the site at all times who is authorized to initiate an appropriate on-site response plan promptly and without consultation. It is noted that the practice at Fessenheim NPP is the same as the practice applied at other EDF plants and it is agreed by the French regulatory body ASN.

The team delivered a draft of its findings to Fessenheim management in the form of "Technical Notes" for factual comments. These notes, along with any comments from Fessenheim NPP and the French nuclear regulatory authority, will be reviewed at IAEA headquarters. The final report will be submitted to the Government of France within three months.

The IAEA conducts approximately six OSART follow-up missions each year and this was the 102nd follow-up mission conducted to date.

General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA website.