An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Pre-SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission has completed a review of long term operational safety at unit 1 of the Cernavoda Nuclear NPP at the request of plant’s operator, SN Nuclearelectrica (SNN). Cernavoda 1 went into commercial operation in 1996. It is one of two 700 MWe Candu-6 pressurised heavy water reactors at the NPP. SNN is planning to refurbish the reactor and extend the total operating lifetime to approximately 60 years.

The Pre-SALTO team assessed the strategy and key elements for safe long-term operation (LTO) of NPPs based on IAEA safety standards. During the 10-day mission the team reviewed the plant’s preparedness, organisation and programmes for safe LTO. The mission was conducted by a 10-person team comprising experts from Argentina, Ireland, Pakistan, Switzerland, the UK and the USA as well as two observers from India and the Republic of Korea and two IAEA staff members. The team had in depth discussions with NPP staff and conducted a plant walkdown during the review.

“The team observed that SNN is implementing preparations for safe LTO in a timely manner and the staff at the plant are professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement,” said team leader and IAEA Nuclear Safety Officer Martin Marchena. “Some ageing management and LTO activities already meet IAEA safety standards. We encourage the plant to address the review findings and implement all remaining activities for safe LTO as planned.”

The team identified good practices and good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • The plant has established partnerships with high schools, trade schools and universities including knowledge and skill development for high school students as well as internships and scholarships. The plant has utilized these approaches to proactively support future staffing needs.
  • The plant implemented a sound programme for managing the ageing of steam generators, including design modifications for improved access and assessment of their condition.
  • The plant implemented a well-established database for cable management. This database facilitates the configuration management and safety assessments that affect cable systems.

The team also provided recommendations to further improve the preparations for LTO safety:

  • The plant should fully develop and complete the Ageing Management Review process for mechanical, electrical, and Instrumentation & Control (I&C) components and civil structures.
  • The plant should improve the programmes designed to confirm the resistance of components to harsh conditions, a so-called equipment qualification programme.
  • The plant management expressed a determination to address the areas identified for improvement and to continue its cooperation with the IAEA.

"The senior management at the Nuclear Power Plant believes that the Pre-SALTO review is instilling confidence among all staff members in our commitment to safe and reliable operations over the long term," said Valentin Ovidiu Nae, Cernavoda Site Vice President. "The findings from this review will enable our team to pursue further improvements and excellence. The Cernavoda team extends its gratitude to the organisation for its unwavering dedication and ongoing support."

The team provided a draft report to the plant management and to the Romanian National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN) at the end of the mission for comment. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, CNCAN and the Romanian Government within three months.

Image: Cernavoda nuclear power plant