An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Pre-Operational Safety Review Team (Pre-OSART) team concluded an 18-day mission to unit 3 of the Mochovce NPP in Slovakia on 5 December. The team observed a commitment to safety by owner/operator Slovenske Elektrarne ahead of the unit’s start of commercial operation and also identified areas for further improvement. Slovakia is building two 471 MWe VVER-440 pressurised water reactors at the site where two 470 MWe units are already in operation.
The 17-member team comprised experts from Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, together with two IAEA staff members and observers from Austria, Italy and the Russian Federation. “Before first starting up a new nuclear power plant, senior managers need to continuously demonstrate commitment to safety and engage employees at every level in this effort, and the Pre-OSART team has observed such a commitment,” said Team Leader Fuming Jiang, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer in the IAEA’s Operational Safety Section.
The review covered the areas of leadership and management for safety; training and qualification; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency preparedness and response; accident management; human, technology and organizational interactions; and commissioning. The team identified several good performances including:
- Implementation of a novel safety system to cool the reactor even when shutdown;
- Development and use of an online tool to support event classification and prognosis, in case of emergencies;
- Adoption of an effective way of communicating with external organizations and interested parties to improve the awareness of nuclear power.
The mission made several recommendations to improve operational safety, including:
- Plant managers should set high standards and expectations for plant operation and ensure they are rigorously applied;
- The plant should fully develop and implement an integrated and strategic approach to support safe commissioning of the plant;
- Plant managers and supervisors should always ensure the safety of personnel and equipment by fostering appropriate behaviour and conditions, such as when staff are working at height.
Branislav Strycek, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Slovenske Elektrarne, noted: “This mission provided valuable feedback, which will help us further improve the commissioning process and increase operational efficiency and safety of our new units. We will implement all proposals and recommendations of the Pre-OSART experts, and I believe that we will achieve our objective of becoming one of the best operators of VVER reactors in the world.” The plant management said it would address the team’s proposals to improve operational safety and request a follow-up OSART mission in about 18 months.