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IAEA Concludes Long Term Operational Safety Review at Sweden's Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant

35/2020
Ringhals, Sweden

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today completed a review of long term operational safety of Unit 3 at the Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Sweden.

The SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) follow-up review mission was requested by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), the Nordic country’s nuclear regulatory body.

The SALTO team, whose review began on 15 September, focused on aspects essential to the safe Long Term Operation (LTO) of Unit 3 at Ringhals, which went into operation in 1981. The original design lifetime of Unit 3 and Unit 4 will expire in 2021 and 2023 respectively. Vattenfall AB, the plant operator, is planning to extend operation of both units for a total operational lifetime of 60 years each. The mission reviewed Ringhals’ response to recommendations and suggestions made during an initial IAEA SALTO mission in 2018.

“The team observed that the operator is preparing Unit 3 for safe LTO in a timely manner,” said team leader and IAEA Senior Nuclear Safety Officer Robert Krivanek. “Basing their efforts on recommendations made by the SALTO team in 2018, the plant has made significant improvements in the area of ageing management and has shown continued commitment to preparing for safe LTO. The SALTO team encourages the plant management to address the remaining findings from the 2018 SALTO mission and implement all activities for safe LTO.”

The team—comprising two experts from Belgium and two IAEA staff members—said the plant had:

  • Improved ageing management of civil structures and buildings.
  • Improved plant processes to manage LTO activities and plant personnel awareness of ageing management and LTO activities.
  • Completed a revalidation of time limited ageing analyses for mechanical components.

The team noted that further work is necessary by the plant to ensure that ageing management and LTO related data are consistent and complete and to establish a long term staffing plan for LTO.

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

 “We appreciate the IAEA support to our plant in ageing management and preparation for safe LTO,” said Bjorn Linde, Ringhals NPP site director. “The results of this mission will help us to improve our activities for safe LTO and to further align them with IAEA safety standards.”

The team provided a draft report to the plant management and to SSM at the end of the mission. The plant management and SSM will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, SSM and the Swedish 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.

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.

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