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IAEA Sees Operational Safety Commitment at Penly Nuclear Power Plant in France, Encourages Continued Improvement

Penly, France

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said that the operator of Units 1 and 2 of the Penly Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in France has demonstrated a commitment to operational safety. The team also encouraged the operator to continue improvements in areas such as the implementation of maintenance work.

The Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) concluded an 18-day mission to the Penly NPP on 21 September. The mission, which focused on two of the plant’s units, was carried out at the request of the Government of France.

OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by independently assessing safety performance against the IAEA’s safety standards by proposing recommendations and, where appropriate, suggestions for improvement. Safety is an essential element during commissioning and the subsequent safe operation of a nuclear power plant.

The plant, owned by the Electricity de France (EDF), is located close to the city of Dieppe in Normandy, 255 kilometres from Paris. Unit 1 started commercial operation in 1990, and Unit 2 in 1992. The two 1300 megawatt electrical (MW(e)) pressurized water reactors are amongst 56 operating nuclear power reactors in France. Nuclear power currently contributes about 68 per cent of the country's electricity. This figure is expected to rise as France is constructing an additional reactor and plans to construct at least six more.

The 13-member team comprised experts from Canada, China, Slovakia, Germany, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America, as well as two IAEA officials.

“We observed that the plant’s senior leadership team held safety as a priority and pushed for improvement in all areas,” said team leader John Duguid, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA. “The team also proposed areas in which improvements can be made to further elevate the plant’s safety performance.”

The team identified good practices to be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • The updated plant information project (CONNECT) installed at the plant provides real time access to information and effective support to different function groups. This assists in operator monitoring, remote requests for technical assistance and management of emergent work.
  • The plant installed a remote monitoring capability on safety critical seawater piping that helps in avoiding biofouling through optimising chemical treatment.
  • The plant developed and installed a system for monitoring sedimentation in the cooling water intake channel.

The mission also provided recommendations and suggestions to further improve operational safety, including that:

  • The plant should improve the implementation of processes related to the testing of the plants installed systems.
  • The plant should improve its preparation, control and implementation of maintenance activities to ensure equipment reliability and personnel safety.
  • The plant should consider improving the quality and planning of its periodic testing.

"The OSART mission enabled an in-depth assessment of the site and an enriching sharing of the best global practices thanks to the team’s combined expertise,” said François Valmage, Executive Site Manager of Unit 1 and 2 of Penly NPP. “The recommendations and suggestions will help us ensure a continuous improvement of the plant’s operational safety.”

The team provided a draft report of the mission to the plant management. They will have the opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. These comments will be reviewed by the IAEA and the final report will be submitted to the Government of France within three months. France intends to make the report public.


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.

Follow up missions are standard components of the OSART programme and are typically conducted within two years of the initial mission.

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements, and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

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