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IAEA Concludes Long Term Operational Safety Review at Mexico's Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant

9/2019
Laguna Verde, Mexico

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today completed a review of long term operational safety at the Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Mexico.

The SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission was requested by CFE (Comision Federal de Electricidad), a state owned public utility, which operates the two unit NPP.

The SALTO team, whose review began on 5 March, focused on aspects essential to the safe Long Term Operation (LTO) of Units 1 and 2 at Laguna Verde, which respectively went into commercial operation in 1990 and 1995. The operator has prepared and submitted a license renewal application to the National Commission for Nuclear Safety and Safeguards (CNSNS), Mexico’s nuclear regulator. In the application, CFE requested a 30-year lifetime extension of the two units beyond the current 30-year license.

The SALTO team reviewed preparedness, organization and programmes related to LTO. SALTO reviews are based on IAEA safety standards.

The team observed that CFE has a good basis to effectively manage LTO. The operator demonstrated that it is implementing preparations for safe LTO in a timely manner. The team said ageing management and LTO activities already meet many recommendations of IAEA safety standards. The team found staff to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.

The team—comprising 10 experts from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Pakistan, Sweden and two IAEA staff members—identified good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • A user-friendly database to effectively manage plant technical documentation to support LTO.
  • A monitoring system on fire water pumps to help early detection of leakages.
  • An effective programme to transfer critical knowledge from employees leaving the plant.

The team also provided recommendations for further enhancing preparations for LTO safety, including that the operator should:

  • Perform a comprehensive Periodic Safety Review to identify potential safety improvements for LTO.
  • Ensure adequate process and documentation for determining the scope of structures, systems and components (SSCs) that needs to be reviewed for LTO preparation.
  • Perform a comprehensive condition assessment of all in-scope SSCs.

The plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a SALTO follow-up mission to Laguna Verde NPP in 2021.

The team provided a draft report to the plant management at the end of the mission. The plant management and the CNSNS will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, the regulatory authority and the Mexican Government within three months.

Background

General information about SALTO missions can be found on the IAEA Website. A SALTO peer review is a comprehensive safety review addressing strategy and key elements for the safe long-term operation of nuclear power plants. They complement OSART missions, which are designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. Neither SALTO nor OSART reviews are regulatory inspections, nor are they design reviews or substitutes for an exhaustive assessment of a plant's overall safety status.

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