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Now Available: New IAEA Specific Safety Guide on Design of Fuel Handling and Storage Systems for Nuclear Power Plants


(Photo: Slovenske elektrarne)

Fuel handling and storage at nuclear power plants are important operational activities of a nuclear reactor, such as receipt, storage and inspection of fresh fuel before use; transfer of fresh fuel into the reactor or removal of irradiated fuel from the reactor; and, its storage and handling in the spent fuel pool. The latest IAEA safety publication Safety Standards Series: Design of Fuel Handling and Storage Systems for Nuclear Power Plants (No. SSG-63) addresses these vital functions in detail.

“Nuclear power plant systems providing for safety functions during the fuel handling and storage have their undisputable place within a plant facility and ensuring the highest level of safety is vital,” said Vesselina Ranguelova, Head of the IAEA Safety Assessment Section, adding that “this specific safety guide provides updated recommendations on how to meet the IAEA safety requirements on design of fuel handling and storage systems for nuclear power plants as stated in the IAEA Specific Safety Requirements SSR-2/1 (Rev. 1) document.”

The publication systematically addresses and describes specific aspects to be considered in the design, and provides clear and practical instructions on how to meet relevant IAEA safety requirements, such as for postulated initiating events, design limits, reliability requirements, safety classification, environmental qualifications and strength analysis. The guidelines emphasize the need to strengthen the design for and protection against external hazards and to practically eliminate the conditions leading to significant fuel degradation in spent fuel storage.

The revised and updated recommendations have been additionally enhanced by the lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, and by knowledge and experience gained from the use of improved technology, and good practices.

Processes on strengthening means for more reliable monitoring and controlling of the water level in the spent fuel storage as well as how to effectively maintain the cooling of spent fuel at an nuclear power plant where an accident has occurred are also covered in the document.

Defence in depth

This safety guide also explains the importance of strengthening the application of the defence in depth concept in design considerations of spent fuel pools and associated structures to properly address all events and accidents that may challenge their integrity.

“As highlighted by the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the defence in depth concept is a fundamental aspect of the nuclear power plant design. It represents a comprehensive and systematic approach which assures effective implementation of mutually independent layers of systems and operational measures to prevent or mitigate accidents,” said Greg Rzentkowski, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. “Aimed at ensuring a high level of nuclear safety, defence in depth plays a key role in the continuing efforts to strengthen nuclear safety, as reflected in this publication.”

Sharing and learning

The IAEA’s objective in issuing this publication is to contribute to a better understanding on the updated recommendations for the design of fuel handling and storage systems for nuclear power plants. It will assist organizations designing, manufacturing, constructing and operating fuel handling or storage systems in NPPs, as well regulatory bodies when deciding to further enhance design or operational safety of nuclear power plants.

Different types of fuel such as enriched uranium dioxide, natural uranium dioxide and mixed oxide fuels are also considered and the publication is intended for application to land-based stationary NPPs with water cooled reactors designed for electricity generation or for other heat production applications (such as district heating of homes or desalination — the conversion of sea water into fresh water suitable for human use).

Rzentkowski added that this publication may also be applied, with judgement, to the design of innovative reactor types, such as Small Modular Reactors and will support regulators, design organizations and future operators of these nuclear power plants in their evaluations to ensure that international safety standards have been met.

Design of Fuel Handling and Storage Systems for Nuclear Power Plants is part of the IAEA Safety Standard Series (No. SSG-63), which serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment and contribute to a harmonized high level of safety worldwide. It aims to help IAEA member countries to meet the requirements specified in the IAEA’s Safety Standards Series No. SSR-2/1 (Rev. 1), Safety of Nuclear Power Plants: Design. These safety requirements are widely recognised as international standards for design of new nuclear power plants worldwide.

The Guide is available in PDF and EPUB format. Download a copy here and find other guides in the IAEA Safety Standards Series here.

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