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IAEA Concludes Long Term Operational Safety Review at Romania’s Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant

Cernavoda, Romania

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today completed a review of long term operational safety at the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Unit 1 in Romania.

The Pre-SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission that took place from 27 February to 7 March was requested by the plant’s operator, SN Nuclearelectrica.

Unit 1 at the Cernavoda NPP, Romania’s only nuclear power plant, went into commercial operation in 1996. It is one of two 700 megawatt electrical (MW(e)) pressurized heavy water reactors of the CANDU (CANadian Deuterium Uranium) 6 design at the NPP. The operator is planning to refurbish the reactor and extend the total operating lifetime to approximately 60 years.

The Pre-SALTO team assessed the strategy and key elements for safe long term operation of nuclear power plants based on the IAEA safety standards. During the ten-day mission from 27 February to 7 March, the team reviewed the plant’s preparedness, organization and programmes for safe LTO. The mission was conducted by a ten-person team comprising experts from Argentina, Ireland, Pakistan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States of America as well as two observers from India and the Republic of Korea and two IAEA staff members. The team had in depth discussions with staff from the Cernavoda NPP and conducted a plant walkdown during the review.

“The team observed that SN Nuclearelectrica is implementing preparations for safe LTO in a timely manner and the staff at the plant are professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement,” said team leader and IAEA Nuclear Safety Officer Martin Marchena. “Some ageing management and LTO activities already meet IAEA safety standards. We encourage the plant to address the review findings and implement all remaining activities for safe LTO as planned.”

The team identified good practices and good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • The plant has established partnerships with high schools, trade schools and universities including knowledge and skill development for high school students as well as internships and scholarships. The plant has utilized these approaches to proactively   support future staffing needs.
  • The plant implemented a sound programme for managing the ageing of steam generators, including design modifications for improved access and assessment of their condition.
  • The plant implemented a well-established database for cable management. This database facilitates the configuration management and safety assessments that affect cable systems.

The team also provided recommendations to further improve the preparations for LTO safety:

  • The plant should fully develop and complete the Ageing Management Review process for mechanical, electrical, and Instrumentation and Control (I&C) components and civil structures.
  • The plant should improve the programmes designed to confirm the resistance of components to harsh conditions, a so-called equipment qualification programme.

The plant management expressed a determination to address the areas identified for improvement and to continue its cooperation with the IAEA.

"The senior management at the Nuclear Power Plant believes that the Pre-SALTO review is instilling confidence among all staff members in our commitment to safe and reliable operations over the long term," said Valentin Ovidiu Nae, the NPPs Site Vice President. "The findings from this review will enable our team to pursue further improvements and excellence. The Cernavoda team extends its gratitude to the organization for its unwavering dedication and ongoing support,"

The team provided a draft report to the plant management and to the Romanian National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN) at the end of the mission. The plant management and CNCAN will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, CNCAN and the Romanian Government within three months.


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.

LTO of nuclear power plants is defined as operation beyond an established time frame determined by the license term, the original plant design, relevant standards, or national regulations. As stated in IAEA safety standards, to maintain a plant’s fitness for service, consideration should be given to life limiting processes and features of systems, structures, and components (SSC), as well as to reasonably practicable safety upgrades to enhance the safety of the plant to a level approaching that of modern plants.

More information on SALTO missions can be found here.


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