The IAEA monitors the long term operation of nuclear reactors Doel 1 and 2
From February 14th to 23rd, 2017 a SALTO mission (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) took place in the Belgian nuclear reactors Doel 1 and 2, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) had requested the mission in the context of the long-term operation (LTO) of Doel 1 and 2 until 2025. Based on the preliminary results, the IAEA deems the LTO program to be well managed by ENGIE Electrabel, in line with international standards in this area.
In November 2015, the Belgian federal government reached an agreement with ENGIE Electrabel to extend the lifespan of nuclear reactors Doel 1 and 2 with an additional ten years until 2025.
However, the long term exploitation is subject to particular conditions: operator ENGIE Electrabel must demonstrate the technical and organizational ability to safely run Doel 1 and 2 until 2025. The LTO of Doel 1 and 2 involves numerous actions, which must guarantee the safe operation of the reactors. The FANC very closely follows the overall management of the LTO, as well as the implementation of the accompanying action plan.
In addition, the FANC calls upon the international expertise of the IAEA, which offers its members the possibility of a peer review, known in this case as the SALTO mission. The purpose of this SALTO mission is to advise those concerned about the safety aspects of long-term operation of a nuclear reactor. The SALTO mission is in line with the general policy of the FANC to promote international peer reviews of activities related to nuclear safety.
For this particular SALTO mission the IAEA selected a team of 12 international nuclear safety experts, who made an evaluation of the various projects carried out by ENGIE Electrabel in the context of the LTO. These evaluations were conducted on the basis of clearly defined themes, including human resource management, knowledge management, aging management of mechanical and electrical components, civil engineering, internal organization and the management of changes to the installations.
Based on these topics, the international experts analyzed a large number of actions. They formulated 4 recommendations and 9 suggestions for ENGIE Electrabel to strengthen their LTO management.
In addition, the experts determined several good practices:
- The operator uses an integrated risk management for LTO at different levels.
- The operator has a comprehensive overview of the LTO-project and knows what has to be analyzed.
- The operator took and continues to take measures to deal with staff turnover, so that knowledge is not lost on potentially departure of staff.
The team also formulated some points of improvement:
- The operator must ensure that all necessary systems, structures and components are monitored in terms of aging management during the LTO period.
- The operator must ensure the consistency and completeness of data concerning structures and components in the framework of the LTO.
- The operator must complete the revision and updating of the programs for aging management for the architectural structures.
The FANC will publish the full report on its website as soon as it is available.
A follow-up mission has been provisionally scheduled for 2019 to evaluate the actions conducted by ENGIE Electrabel to answer to the recommendations and suggestions formulated by the IAEA during this SALTO mission. A similar follow-up mission was organized in December 2016 in the nuclear reactor Tihange 1.
The FANC monitors the implementation of these actions attentively, as part of its mission to protect the population and the environment against the dangers of ionizing radiation.
23 Februari 2017