IAEA Leads Operational Safety Mission to Muehleberg Nuclear Power Plant

2012/24

An international team of nuclear safety experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency today concluded a review of the safety practices at the Muehleberg Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) near Bern in Switzerland. The team noted a series of good practices and made recommendations and suggestions to reinforce them.

The IAEA assembled the Operational Safety Review Team at the request of the Swiss government. The team, led by the IAEA's Division of Nuclear Installation Safety, performed an in-depth operational safety review from 8 to 25 October 2012. The team comprised experts from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as experts from the IAEA.

The team conducted an in-depth review of the aspects essential to the safe operation of the Muehleberg NPP. The conclusions of the review are based on the IAEA's Safety Standards and proven good international practices. The review covered the areas of Management, Organization and Administration; Training; Operations; Maintenance; Technical Support; Operating Experience; Radiation Protection; Chemistry, Emergency Planning and Preparedness, Severe Accident Management and Long-Term Operation.

The OSART team made 10 recommendations and 11 suggestions related to areas where operations of Muehleberg NPP could be further improved, for example:

  • Plant management could improve the operating experience program and methods throughout the plant to ensure corrective actions are taken in a timely manner;
  • In the area of Long-Term Operation, the ageing management review for some systems and components is not complete and the environmental qualification of originally installed safety cables has not yet been revalidated for long-term operation; and
  • The plant provisions for the protection of persons on the site during an emergency with radioactive release can be improved to minimize health risks to plant personnel.

The team also identified 10 good practices of the plant. These good practices will be shared with the nuclear industry world-wide for consideration. Examples include:

  • The plant has developed a comprehensive strategy to manage the core shroud cracking issue (detected in 1990 and monitored ever since) and allow long term operation;
  • Preserving and transferring corporate knowledge and know-how has been implemented by the plant as part of succession planning;
  • The plant has developed and implemented a comprehensive Accident Management Program including Severe Accident Management Guidance for shut-down conditions.

Muehleberg NPP management expressed determination to address all the areas identified for improvement and requested that the IAEA schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months.

The team handed over a draft of their recommendations, suggestions and good practices to the plant management in the form of "Technical Notes" for factual comments. The technical notes will be reviewed at the IAEA headquarters including any comments from Muehleberg NPP and the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate. The final report will be submitted to the Government of Switzerland within three months.

This was the 170th mission of the OSART programme, which began in 1982. OSART missions were performed in Switzerland in 1994 at Leibstadt NPP, in 1995 at Beznau NPP, in 1999 at Goesgen NPP and in 2000 at Muehleberg NPP.

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

Background:

The IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan defines a programme of work to strengthen the nuclear safety framework worldwide in the light of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. The plan was unanimously endorsed by IAEA Member States during the Agency's 55th General Conference in September 2011. The Action Plan recommended: "Each Member State with nuclear power plants to voluntarily host at least one IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission during the coming three years, with the initial focus on older nuclear power plants. Thereafter, OSART missions to be voluntarily hosted on a regular basis."

Additional Resources:

» IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security
» IAEA OSART Programme

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Last update: 12 September 2014