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IAEA Mission Says France’s Golfech NPP Demonstrates Strong Safety Commitment; Sees Improvement Opportunities

Golfech, France

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today said France’s Golfech Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) has demonstrated a strong commitment to safety through a comprehensive and advanced safety improvement programme, but noted that further efforts are needed to maintain the momentum.

The Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) today concluded a 17-day mission to assess operational safety at the Golfech NPP. The plant, operated by Électricité de France S.A. (EDF), has two 1300 megawatt pressurized water reactors that were connected to the grid in 1990 and 1993. They contributed almost five percent to France’s annual nuclear energy production in 2015. Nuclear power plants produce about three quarters of France’s total electricity output.

OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA’s Safety Standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate.

“The Golfech NPP fosters a strong culture that seeks continuous improvement of operational safety. It has carried out major design modifications that further enhance safety and implements an ambitious safety programme, elements of which we recognized as good practices that could be adopted by other plants,” said Team Leader Vesselina Ranguelova. “The OSART mission’s recommendations and suggestions will help the plant continue its comprehensive work to achieve the highest possible safety level.”

The 14-member OSART team comprised experts from Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, the United States of America, as well as five IAEA officials.

The  review covered the following areas: leadership and management for safety; training and qualification; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency planning and preparedness, accident management, as well as human, technology and organization interactions.

The OSART team identified a number of good practices that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • The production of training videos to instruct staff in the use of emergency equipment added in response to lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident, including on-site mobile emergency equipment.
  • The development of a simple but effective system to remove radioactive particles from shoes, using rotating brushes connected to a filtered vacuum unit.
  •  The introduction of a visual system with fluorescent tags to identify emergency valves in order to assist operators in applying emergency procedures.

The mission made a number of proposals to improve operational safety at the plant, including:

  • The plant should ensure that design modifications are properly planned to avoid delays in their implementation and that all relevant plant documentation is updated accordingly.
  • The plant should ensure that operational procedures are applied consistently.
  • The plant should consistently assess effectiveness of its maintenance activities to ensure the reliability of equipment.

The team provided a draft of the report to the plant’s management. The plant management and the French Safety Authority will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft, which will be reviewed by the IAEA. The final report will be submitted to the French Government within three months.

Golfech management said it would address all the areas identified for improvement and requested the IAEA to schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months’ time.

“Nuclear safety improvements are achieved through benchmarking, external scrutiny and performance reviews,” said Golfech plant Director Nicolas Brouzeng. “For us, the OSART is a good opportunity to challenge our practices by comparing them with international standards. The report will be presented to all the staff. Suggestions and recommendations will be implemented and we are glad to share our good practices with the rest of nuclear community.”

BACKGROUND: General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA Website. An OSART mission is designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the plant’s overall safety status. This was the 190th mission of the OSART programme, which began in 1982, and the 29th mission in France.

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