IAEA Team Reviews Safety Progress at French Nuclear Power Plant 19-23 May 2014

Gravelines, France – An international team of nuclear installation safety experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has evaluated the Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in France to assess how the station has followed up on an Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission undertaken in 2012.

The IAEA assembled a team of experts at the request of the Government of France to conduct the follow-up OSART mission at Gravelines NPP from 19-23 May 2014. Follow-up missions are standard components of the OSART programme; they are typically conducted 15-24 months after the initial OSART mission.

The IAEA mission in 2012 made a number of recommendations and suggestions for consideration by the Gravelines NPP operators.  The station thoroughly analyzed the OSART recommendations and suggestions and developed corrective action plans. In 18 months, the Gravelines plant has achieved the level “resolved” or “satisfactory progress” in almost all of the recommendations and suggestions made by the OSART in November 2012. During the follow-up mission, the team assessed that the operators have resolved the issues in several areas, including:

  -  Undertaking initiatives to improve fire prevention.

  -  Reinforcing contamination control practices.

  -  Enhancing capabilities to protect emergency workers in the event of a release of radioactivity.

The team identified some issues which have achieved satisfactory progress toward resolution, but need further work, including:

  -  Further improvement of measures to preventing the ingress of items or chemicals into circuits and equipment.

  -  Comprehensive application of the corrective actions programme.

  -  Reinforcement of the containment protection system in the event of an extremely adverse situation.

The team identified the following issue as one which has made insufficient progress toward resolution and needs further work:

  -  Emergency response arrangements do not follow current IAEA safety standards recommending that the plant should have a person on the site at all times with the authority and responsibility to initiate appropriate emergency response measures.

The team handed over a draft of its findings to Gravelines NPP management officials in the form of “Technical Notes” for factual comments. These technical notes will be reviewed at IAEA headquarters after receiving comments from Gravelines NPP and the French nuclear regulatory authority, ASN. The final report will be submitted to the Government of France within three months.

The team was made up of experts from Hungary, the United Kingdom and the IAEA.

The review covered the areas of Management, Organization and Administration; Operations; Maintenance; Technical Support; Operating Experience; Radiation Protection; Chemistry; Emergency Planning and Preparedness; and Severe Accident Management. The conclusions of the follow-up review are based on the IAEA’s Safety Standards.

The IAEA conducts approximately six OSART and six OSART follow-up missions each year. The management and staff of Gravelines NPP were cooperative, open and frank during the review.

Background

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. Experts participating in the IAEA’s June 2010 International Conference on Operational Safety of Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) reviewed the experience of the OSART programme and concluded: In OSART missions to NPPs are assessed against IAEA Safety Standards which reflect the current international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety; and

  -  OSART recommendations and suggestions are of utmost importance for operational safety improvement of NPPs.

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.”

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