An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) team of experts has completed a review of long-term operational safety at the Armenian nuclear power plant (ANPP).
The 12-member team focused on aspects essential to the safe long-term operation of Metsamor 2, which went into commercial operation in 1980. Metsamor 1 was permanently shut down in 1989.
In 2011, the Armenian Nuclear Regulatory Authority granted the Armenian nulcear plant an extension of its operating license until 2021, subject to annual safety demonstrations since 2016. The plant is preparing to submit an application for a second licence renewal to extend the plant’s operating lifetime until 2026.
The SALTO team said the operator has "begun addressing the main findings of the previous missions." These included the need to complete necessary safety analysis updates and the identification of components requiring a new safety demonstration for long-term operation. The operator had also assessed the fitness for service of safety related components and decided on an extensive replacement and upgrading programme. The team noted that the operator had "made progress" in managing ageing, and said it found plant staff to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.
“The LTO project for ANPP involves many regulatory and technical challenges which must be addressed to maintain safety of operation,” said Greg Rzentkowski, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. “In particular, the operator is obliged to demonstrate to the regulator that implemented and planned safety measures are adequate, and that they will remain so until the end of the intended operating period.”
The SALTO review team comprised experts from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Iran, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine as well as two IAEA staff members. It identified several good practices and performances including: weekly training for plant managers that includes LTO areas for plant modernisation; a comprehensive chemistry monitoring process that provides information for an ageing management programme; and a crack detection monitoring programme to ensure the integrity of the dry spent fuel storage facility.
The team made several recommendations for further enhancing safety, including:
- The plant should keep the safety analysis report updated throughout the LTO period;
- The plant should ensure that the methodology for determining the scope of LTO includes all relevant systems, structures and components;
- The plant should ensure the adequate environmental qualification of electrical and instrumentation and control equipment is maintained.
The plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a followup mission in 2020.