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IAEA Concludes Long-Term Operational Safety Review at Spain’s Ascó and Vandellós Nuclear Power Plants

Tarragona, Spain
Flag of Spain

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts yesterday completed a review of long-term operational safety at the Ascó and Vandellós Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) in Spain.

The Pre-SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission was requested by ANAV (Asociación Nuclear Ascó Vandellós II A.I.E.), which operates both power plants.

The 12-member team, whose review began on 15 January, focused on aspects essential to the safe Long-Term Operation (LTO) of Units 1 and 2 at Ascó and Unit 2 at Vandellós, which respectively went into commercial operation in 1984, 1986 and 1988. The operator is preparing a license renewal application to the competent Spanish ministry and the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN), Spain’s nuclear regulator. The operator plans to apply for a lifetime extension of all three units beyond the current 40-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 the operator 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, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa and the United States as well as two IAEA staff members—identified several good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • Well-maintained and user-friendly design basis documentation ensuring a good foundation for safe LTO.
  • Comprehensive strategy for identification and revalidation of time limited ageing analyses for mechanical and civil structures and components.
  • Effective management of generational human resources turnover.

The team also provided several recommendations for further enhancing preparations for LTO safety, including:

  • The operator should completely analyze and properly document the review of relevant IAEA safety standards as a basis for Periodic Safety Reviews.
  • The operator should demonstrate that management of ageing of all active structures, systems and components is in place for LTO.
  • The operator should implement a complete management of ageing of electrical, instrumentation and control components for LTO.

The plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a SALTO mission to Ascó’s Units 1 and 2 in January 2021 and a SALTO mission to Unit 2 at Vandellós in 2023.

The team provided a draft report to the plant management at the end of the mission. The plant management and the CSN 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 Spanish Government within three months.


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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