IAEA concludes safety review of Spain’s Ascó NPP

15 September 2023

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) team of experts has completed a review of operational safety at the Ascó NPP in Spain. The SALTO follow-up review mission was requested by the plant’s operator, Asociación Nuclear Ascó-Vandellós II (ANAV). The mission assesed Ascó NPP’s response to recommendations and suggestions made during a previous mission in 2021.

Ascó is one of Spain’s five operational NPPs, where seven reactors produce 20% of the country’s electricity. Ascó has two pressurised-water reactor units with an installed power of approximately 1030 MWe each. Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1984, and unit 2 in 1986. The units are licensed to operate until 2030 and 2031.

The SALTO team focused on aspects essential to the safe long-term operation (LTO) of both units and reviewed implementation of recommendations made during 2021 mission, which had built on an initial Pre-SALTO mission in 2019. The review team comprised four experts from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Sweden, as well as two IAEA staff members.

Team leader and IAEA Nuclear Safety Officer Martin Marchena said staff at the plant were addressing SALTO recommendations and suggestions for improvement. “Basing its efforts on recommendations made by the SALTO team in 2021, the plant has made significant improvements in the area of ageing management. The SALTO team encourages the plant management to address the remaining findings from the 2021 mission and implement all activities for safe LTO,” he noted.

The team concluded that the plant had:

  • Defined and implemented an appropriate scope setting methodology to identify the components and structures to be managed for a safe LTO;
  • Implemented an advanced digitalisation process to ensure easy retrievability, traceability and long-term preservation of ANAV’s documents; and
  • Completed full demonstration of effective ageing management in the Ageing Management Review of passive and also of active mechanical components.

Further work is necessary by the plant to ensure that:

  • A comprehensive programme to confirm the resistance of electrical components to harsh conditions, a so-called equipment qualification programme, is fully implemented; and
  • A comprehensive strategy for ageing management of structural elements of electrical cabinets and panels is in place.

The plant management expressed a determination to address the remaining areas and to continue cooperating with the IAEA. The SALTO team provided a draft report to ANAV and to the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN), Spain’s nuclear regulatory authority, at the end of the mission. ANAV and CSN will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to ANAV, CSN and the Spanish Government within three months.

Image: Ascó nuclear power plant in Catalonia, Spain (courtesy of ForoNuclear)

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