An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of nuclear safety experts today completed an assessment of long-term operational safety at the Doel Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Unit 1 and 2 in Belgium.
The Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) review mission was requested by the Belgian Ministry of Security and the Interior (IBZ). The in-depth review, which began on 14 February, focused on aspects essential to the safe long-term operation (LTO) of the two units, which were put in commercial operation in 1975. Doel units 3 and 4 were not part of the review.
In October 2015, the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) approved the operator’s application to extend the operation of Units 1 and 2 by 10 years to 2025, pending the fulfilment of several safety-related conditions.
The SALTO team reviewed the plant’s organization and programmes related to LTO, including human resources and knowledge management. The findings of SALTO reviews are based on the IAEA safety standards.
The IAEA team concluded that the plant had made significant progress on ageing management and preparation for safe LTO. The plant’s LTO project has addressed most of the areas recommended by IAEA safety standards, and is addressing remaining topics.
The team identified several good practices at the plant that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:
The plant uses integrated risk management for LTO at programme and individual project levels.
The plant’s comprehensive scoping methodology for LTO evaluation.
The plant uses incentives to keep staff and takes measures to ensure knowledge is not lost with turnover.
The team provided a number of recommendations for improvements to LTO safety, including:
The plant should ensure that all required systems, structures and components are included in the scope of ageing management during the LTO period.
The plant should ensure consistency and completeness of data for structures and components in the scope of LTO.
The plant should complete the review and update of the ageing management programmes for civil structures and components for the purpose of LTO.
The Doel plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a follow-up mission in approximately two years.
The team has provided a draft report to the plant management. The plant and FANC will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to the plant, FANC and the Belgian Government within three months.
The review team comprised experts from Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the IAEA.
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. Both SALTO and OSART reviews are not regulatory inspections, nor are they design reviews or substitutes for an exhaustive assessment of a plant's overall safety status.