Spain approves post-Fukushima NPP modifications

30 November 2016

Spain’s nuclear regulator, Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear (CSN), has approved a series of modifications at three NPPs as part of the European Union-mandated post-Fukushima stress tests that were completed in 2012. The modifications include the installation of passive autocatalytic hydrogen recombiners, which prevent the build-up of hydrogen within the plants. Other modifications include the construction of emergency management centres at the two-unit Almaraz NPP and the single-unit Trillo and Cofrentes NPPs, as well as a general revision of emergency plans. Plant functions can be controlled from the centres, which can be used to protect against beyond design basis accidents such as those resulting from an atypically large earthquake or flood.

The CSN plenary on 24 November also approved design modifications for the commissioning of alternative emergency management centres (centros alternativos de gestión de emergencias, or CAGE) at unit 2 of the Vandellós NPP and units 1 and 2 at Ascó NPP, as well as modifications to Vandellós 2's filtered venting system; and associated revisions to internal emergency plans and physical protection plans. With the latest approvals, all Spanish NPPs currently in operation will have CAGE centres by 30 November, CSN said.

The plenary 'reported favourably' on the improvement criticality control management at the Juzbado fuel manufacturing plant in Salamanca, a revision of the technical specifications for fire protection in emergency diesel generators at the Trillo NPP, and a design modification of the Almaraz NPP to enable improved sampling of the atmosphere inside the containment during a severe accident. During the same session, the CSN approved the replacement of the existing analogue control system at Vandellós 2 with a new digital control system.

Spain has seven commercially operational reactors and one – Santa Maria de Garoña – in long-term shutdown. The operational units account for about 20% of Spain’s total electricity. Garoña was shut down in December 2012, but according to Madrid-based industry group Foro Nuclear could be restarted. Owner Nuclenor blamed the shutdown on a tax on energy production and used nuclear fuel that it said would have made Garoña’s operation economically unviable.

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