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

11/2018
Ringhals, Sweden

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

The Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) review mission was requested by the plant operator, Vattenfall. The 12-member team, whose review began on 27 February and ended on 8 March, focused on aspects essential to the safe Long-Term Operation (LTO) of Unit 3, which went into commercial operation in 1981 with a design life of 40 years. The operator of the plant, which has four reactors, is making preparations to extend the operating lifetime to 60 years of Units 3 and 4. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) requires a Periodic Safety Review (PSR) to be performed every 10 years.

The SALTO team reviewed the plant’s organization and programmes related to LTO, including human resources and knowledge management. SALTO reviews are based on IAEA safety standards.

The team observed that the plant has made very good progress in the field of ageing management and preparedness for safe LTO and said management demonstrated a commitment to making further improvements. The LTO project addresses most topics recommended by the IAEA. The team found the plant staff to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.

The team—comprising nine experts from Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as three IAEA staff members—identified several good practices and performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • The plant successfully developed and implemented a comprehensive method to inspect piping.
  • The plant has used a novel approach to identify corrosion in concrete structures exposed to the marine environment.
  • The LTO project is implemented using primarily the plant’s own staff.

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

  • The plant should document and use all of the information gathered to assess ageing of structures, systems and components for LTO in an appropriate manner.
  • The plant should ensure data consistency and completeness for LTO assessments.
  • The plant should establish a long-term staffing plan for LTO.

The plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a follow-up mission in January 2020.

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

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