An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) team on 6 December completed an assessment of long-term operational safety at the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP). The in-depth review, which began on 28 November, focused on aspects essential to the safe long-term operation of the plant, which has applied to the Armenian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ANRA) to extend power-generation beyond the end of 2016. The single operating reactor, a Russian-designed VVER-440 unit, accounts for 35-40% of Armenia’s electricity production.

The SALTO team, comprising experts from Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, India, Ukraine and the IAEA, reviewed the plant’s organisation and programmes related to its long-term operation, including human resources and knowledge management. It identified several good practices and performances at the plant that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally. These included: the plant’s seismic qualification programme; a management and operational succession plan for 27 safety-critical roles at the plant; and the plant’s safety upgrade modification programme.

The team also made a number of recommendations for improvements to long-term operational safety. It noted that the plant should develop and implement methodology to ensure all safety-related systems are assessed for long-term operation and fully document the results. The plant should fully document its preparations for long-term operation to ensure that all safety aspects are covered. The plant should also ensure that relevant mechanical components are periodically re-evaluated during long-term operation.  

ANPP management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months.  The review, including any comments from the plant and ANRA, will be reviewed at IAEA headquarters. A final report will be submitted to the plant, to the ANRA and the Armenian government within three months.