Discussing the Design Review Process for Nuclear Power Plants

Experts from 17 Member States attended the Technical Meeting, held at the IAEA
on 13−15 March 2013

2013-03-21 | Maintaining the safe operation of a nuclear power plant requires that its initial design – and any changes made during the plant’s lifetime – is constantly reviewed by a meticulous and structured process.

To that end, the IAEA organized a technical meeting on the "Design Review Process to Support Expanding and New Nuclear Power Programmes" in Vienna from 13 to 15 March 2013.

Thirty-two experts from 17 Member States and two international organizations discussed issues including experiences, knowledge and enhancement of the design process, the search for better and more efficient design management, processes, and the concept of design authority.

“Cooperation and information exchange among the owner/operators, industry members, regulatory bodies, and technical organizations is essential to improve safety of nuclear power” said Mr Jong Kyun Park, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Power. “We must continuously strive to identify better, more efficient and more reliable processes”, he added.

When a plant is built, its design is an integrated process that involves many entities including the reactor supplier and architect–engineer, designers and suppliers of components and many others involved in the construction and commissioning a nuclear power plant. The owner/operating organization is usually a customer of those entities but bears the full responsibility for the design of the facility and for its verification.

Thus the operating organization must be able to understand and be a knowledgeable customer about the design of a nuclear power plant from the early design stage to the implementation and also keep records on all design information.

“Newcomer countries will need a mature design support team”, said Mr Park. “The selected technology must be reviewed to ensure that the design meets the legal, environmental, safety, contractual and technical requirements and that any necessary design changes and site specific adaptations are identified and defined”.

The three-day meeting discussed the roles of owner/operating organizations in the design review process for a turn-key project; interfaces of owner/operating organizations with technical support organizations in the stages of design; and challenges and solutions for owner/operating organizations and technical service organization.

Participants agreed that this technical meeting provided an excellent opportunity to share, learn and adopt efficient and effective practices, methods, and a proven process for the safe and efficient design, construction and operation of a nuclear power plant.