IAEA reviews safety at Borssele NPP in the Netherlands

14 February 2023

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) team has concluded an 18-day mission to the Borssele NPP in the Netherlands. The Borssele NPP, with a single 482 MWe pressurised water reactor was commissioned in 1973. It contributes 3.1% of the Netherlands’ electricity production. At the end of 2022, the Dutch government approved the planned construction of two new units at the Borssele site, which should bring total electricity production from nuclear to 13%.

The OSART team comprised 12 experts from the Czech Republic, France, Japan, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK, as well as two IAEA staff. Meetings were held with representatives of plant operator EPZ (Elektriciteits-Productiemaatschappij Zuid-Nederland), government and local community representatives, and officials from the nuclear safety authority (ANVS). The team also made daily visits to the NPP to observe regular plant activities such as maintenance and surveillance works, radiation work permits, and training activities as well as to interview personnel.

“Managers and employees of the Borssele NPP are very committed to further improving the operational safety and reliability of their plant. Throughout the review, the exchange of information between the OSART experts and plant personnel was very open, professional and productive,” said team leader Yury Martynenko, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA. “This allowed us to truly assess the effectiveness of operational safety to compare the plant’s performance against IAEA Safety Standards.”

The team found areas of good performance, including:

  • The plant has developed an easily applicable matrix to visualise ageing management activities to ensure effective ageing management.
  • The plant’s use of a unique risk-informed application that analyses risk benefits to categorise safety improvements is effective as a method to concentrate efforts in areas most beneficial to safety.
  • The plant implemented a passive reactor coolant pump (RCP) seals isolation valve to reduce the risk of RCP seal failure and subsequent primary coolant loss in station blackout situations.

A number of proposals for additional improvements were made, including:

  • The plant should enhance implementation of operator support systems to prevent the use of non-authorised operating documentation.
  • Plant radiation protection practices for contamination control, dose planning and control of radioactive sources should be enhanced to meet the requirements of the plant’s radiation protection programme.
  • The plant should optimise its chemical practices to ensure the correct identification, labelling, storage and use of chemicals, as well as accurate results of chemical analyses.

“In recent years we put a lot of effort into continuously improving the way we operate our plant. I'm pleased to see that reflected in the results of this review,” said EPZ CEO Carlo Wolters. “EPZ will also take the opportunity to proactively address the proposals for improvement from this review in the coming period.”

Image: The Borssele nuclear power plant (courtesy of EPZ)

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