IAEA Operational Safety Team Reviews Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant
An international team of nuclear installation safety experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reviewed operational safety at France's Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) noting a series of good practices as well as recommendations and suggestions to reinforce them.
The IAEA assembled an international team of experts at the request of the Government of France to conduct an Operational Safety Review (OSART) of Cattenom NPP. Under the leadership of the IAEA's Division of Nuclear Installation Safety in Vienna, the OSART team performed an in-depth operational safety review of the plant from 14 November to 1 December 2011. The team was made up of experts from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the IAEA.
The team at Cattenom conducted an in-depth review of the aspects essential to the safe operation of the NPP, which is largely under the control of the site management. The conclusions of the review are based on the IAEA's Safety Standards.
The review covered the areas of Management, Organization and Administration; Training and Qualification; Operations; Maintenance; Technical Support; Operating Experience; Radiation Protection; Chemistry; Emergency Planning and Preparedness; and Severe Accident Management. Cattenom is the first plant in Europe to voluntarily undertake a Severe Accident Management review during an OSART review.
The OSART team has identified good plant practices, which will be shared with the rest of the nuclear industry for consideration of their application. Examples include:
- Sheets are displayed in storage areas where combustible material is present - these sheets are updated readily and accurately by the area owner to ensure that the fire limits are complied with;
- A simple container is attached to the neutron source handling device to ensure ease and safety of operations and reduce possible radiation exposure during use, transport and storage of the source;
- Redundant and diversified telecommunication means are deployed in the various on-site emergency response facilities; and
- In the event of a severe accident, the support which can be provided to plant staff through a wide range of expertise and analytical tools is commendable.
The team has made recommendations and suggestions related to areas where operational safety of Cattenom NPP could be improved. Examples include:
- Ensuring that all management information, directives and expectations are clearly communicated to all staff and fully implemented;
- Enhancing the organization of the training programme in the areas of assessment, objectives and competencies;
- Improving the control of the plant surveillance test programme regarding scheduling and acceptance criteria; and
- Improving the effectiveness of the plant's Root Cause Analysis process.
Cattenom management expressed a determination to address all the areas identified for improvement and requested the IAEA to schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months' time.
The team handed over a draft of their recommendations, suggestions and good practices to the plant management in the form of "Technical Notes" for factual comments. The technical notes will be reviewed at IAEA headquarters including any comments from Cattenom NPP and the French Safety Authority (ASN). The final report will be submitted to the Government of France within three months.
This was the 166th mission of the OSART programme, which began in 1982, and the 23rd such mission in France.
General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA website OSART Missions.
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. Experts participating in the IAEA's June 2010 International Conference on Operational Safety of Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) reviewed the experience of the OSART programme and concluded:
- In OSART missions NPPs are assessed against IAEA Safety Standards which reflect the current international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety; and
- OSART recommendations and suggestions are of utmost importance for operational safety improvement of NPPs.
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