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

8/2020
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) in Romania.

The Pre-SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission was requested by the plant’s operator, Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica SA.

Cernavoda NPP is the only nuclear power plant in Romania and consists of two 650-MWe pressurized heavy-water reactors. Unit 1 went into commercial operation in 1996 and Unit 2 in 2007. The 11-member SALTO team focused on aspects essential to the safe Long Term Operation (LTO) of Unit 1, which Nuclearelectrica plans to extend for a total operational lifetime of approximately 60 years.

During the 11-19 February mission, the SALTO team reviewed preparedness, organization and programmes related to LTO. SALTO reviews are based on IAEA safety standards.

The review team found staff at the plant to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.

“The team observed that the operator is implementing preparations for safe LTO in a timely manner,” said team leader and IAEA Senior Nuclear Safety Officer Robert Krivanek. “Some ageing management and LTO activities already meet IAEA safety standards, and the SALTO team encourages the plant to address the review findings and facilitate implementation of all remaining activities for safe LTO.”

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

  • The plant makes effective use of international experience shared in the CANDU Owners Group for safety improvements.
  • The plant successfully applies a long term corrective action programme.
  • The plant uses a dynamic learning approach for work not performed on a regular basis.

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

  • The plant should improve its LTO strategy to cover all necessary activities to prepare for safe LTO.
  • The plant should develop and implement a comprehensive methodology to set the scope for structures and components as part of ageing management and LTO.
  • The plant should perform an adequate ageing management review for LTO.

“We appreciate the IAEA support to our plant in ageing management and preparation for safe LTO,” said Dan Bigu, Cernavoda 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 plant management expressed a determination to address the areas identified for improvement and to continue cooperation with the IAEA in preparation for safe LTO.

The team provided a draft report to the plant management and to the National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN), the country’s nuclear regulatory authority, 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.

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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