Source: International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts completed a review of long term operational safety at the Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Mexico.
The SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) follow-up review mission was requested by the Comisión Federal de Electricidad of Mexico (CFE), the operator of the plant.
The SALTO team, whose review began on 21 June, focused on aspects essential to the safe Long Term Operation (LTO) at Laguna Verde NPP. The mission reviewed the plant’s implementation of recommendations and suggestions made during an IAEA SALTO mission in 2019.
The plant consists of two units, each with a capacity of 2317 Megawatt electric (MWe). Both are equipped with a boiling water reactor (BWR) and were subject to review by the IAEA team. Unit 1 went into commercial operation in 1990 and Unit 2 in 1995. The operator of the plant has already obtained a license renewal to extend the operating lifetime of Unit 1 from 30 to 60 years. The application to extend operation of Unit 2 from 30 to 60 years is in process.
“The team observed that the operator is preparing the plant for safe LTO in a timely manner,” said the team leader and IAEA Nuclear Safety Officer Martin Marchena. “Following the recommendations made by the SALTO team in 2019, the plant has made significant improvements in the area of ageing management and has shown continued commitment to prepare for safe LTO. The SALTO team encourages the plant management to fully address the remaining findings from the 2019 SALTO mission and implement all activities for safe LTO.”
The team comprised four experts from Argentina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Germany and one IAEA staff member. One observer from Netherlands and one from Sweden also participated. The team said the plant had:
- Improved ageing management of mechanical components, civil structures and buildings.
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive training programme for ageing management.
- Improved the process for data management in support of long term operation.
The team noted that further work is necessary by the plant to:
- Perform a comprehensive periodic safety review to identify potential safety improvements for LTO.
- Fully implement a programme to confirm resistance of electrical components to harsh conditions, a so-called equipment qualification programme.
The plant management expressed determination to address the areas identified for improvement and to continue cooperation with the IAEA.
“We appreciate the IAEA’s support to our plant in ageing management and continuous improvement in our safe operation during LTO,” said Cesar Amador, Laguna Verde NPP site director. “The results of this mission will help us maintain a high performance in our activities for safe LTO.”
The team provided a draft report to the plant management and to the regulatory authority at the end of the mission. The plant management and regulatory authority will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, the regulator authority – the Comision Nacional de Seguridad Nuclear y Salvaguardias (CNSNS), and the Mexican Government within three months.
General information about SALTO missions can be found on the IAEA Website. A SALTO peer review is a comprehensive safety review addressing strategy and key elements for the safe long term operation of nuclear power plants. They complement OSART missions, which are designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. Neither SALTO nor OSART reviews are regulatory inspections, nor are they design reviews or substitutes for an exhaustive assessment of a plant’s overall safety status.
LTO of nuclear power plants is defined as operation beyond an established time frame determined by the license term, the original plant design, relevant standards, or national regulations. As stated in IAEA safety standards, to maintain a plant’s fitness for service, consideration should be given to life limiting processes and features of systems, structures, and components (SSC), as well as to reasonably practicable safety upgrades to enhance the safety of the plant to a level approaching that of modern plants.
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