An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) team of experts concluded an 18-day mission to the Penly NPP in France at the request of the French Government. IAEA said that the operator of units 1&2 at the Penly NPP 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 plant, owned by Electricite 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 MWe pressurised water reactors are among France’s 56 operating nuclear power reactors. Nuclear power currently contributes about 68% of the country's electricity and this is expected to increase as France is constructing an additional reactor with plans for at least six more.

The 13-member team comprised experts from Canada, China, Slovakia, Germany, South Africa, Sweden, the UK, United Arab Emirates and the USA|, 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 Penly 1&2. “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, who have the opportunity to make factual comments. These 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.

Image: Penly nuclear power plant site in Normandy, northern France (courtesy of EDF)