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Press Release 2014/14

IAEA Team Reviews Safety Progress at Swiss Nuclear Power Plant

20 June 2014 | Mühleberg, Switzerland -- An international team of nuclear installation safety experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today completed an assessment of how the Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Switzerland has followed up on an Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission undertaken in October 2012.

Follow-up missions are standard components of the OSART programme, and are typically conducted within two years of the initial OSART mission. At the request of the Government of Switzerland, the IAEA assembled a team of experts to conduct the follow-up OSART mission at Mühleberg NPP from 16 to 20 June 2014.

The initial OSART mission made a number of recommendations and suggestions for consideration by the operator at Mühleberg, which developed corrective action plans. The follow-up mission found that in the past 20 months, the operator has resolved or made satisfactory progress in all of the 2012 OSART recommendations and suggestions.

Among the issues resolved, it has:

  • Strengthened the utility's monitoring function over the nuclear power plant;
  • Further minimized radiation doses to workers and improved measures to prevent contamination; and
  • Confirmed that safety cables are able to resist environmental conditions as required for long-term operation.

The team identified some issues which have achieved satisfactory progress toward resolution, but need further work. For example, the team proposes that the plant should:

  • Continue to improve its industrial safety programme;
  • Clarify management expectations to ensure that shift operators fulfill all expectations correctly; and
  • Reinforce a timely and thorough analysis of operational experience.

The team handed a draft of its findings to Mühleberg NPP management officials in the form of Technical Notes for factual comments. These Technical Notes and comments from Mühleberg NPP and the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate will be reviewed by the IAEA. The final report will be submitted to the Government of Switzerland within three months.

The team comprised experts from Germany and the IAEA.

The review was based on the IAEA's Safety Standards and covered the areas of management, organization and administration; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency planning and preparedness; long-term operation; and severe accident management.

Background

The IAEA conducts approximately six OSART and six OSART follow-up missions each year.

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

An OSART mission is designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety of NPPs. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the plant's overall safety status.

The IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan defines a programme of work to strengthen the nuclear safety framework worldwide in the light of the March 2011 accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Plan, which was unanimously endorsed by IAEA Member States in September 2011, called on all IAEA Member States with NPPs to voluntarily host at least one OSART mission within three years, with the initial focus on older nuclear power plants. After that, the Plan recommends that Member States voluntarily host OSART missions on a regular basis.