IAEA Concludes Long-Term Operational Safety Review at Argentina's Atucha Nuclear Power Plant
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An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has completed a review of long-term operational safety of Unit 1 at Atucha Nuclear Power Plant in Argentin
The Pre-SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission was requested by the plantâs operator, Nucleoelectrica Argentina. The 11-member team, whose review ended on 31 October, focused on aspects essential to the safe Long-Term Operation (LTO) of Unit 1, which went into commercial operation in 1974. The operator is preparing a license renewal application to the Argentinian Nuclear Regulatory Authority to extend the operating lifetime of Unit 1.
The SALTO team reviewed preparedness, organization and programmes related to LTO against IAEA safety standards.
The team observed that the plant has made progress in the field of ageing management and preparedness for safe LTO. The team said the plantâs LTO project already addresses several topics recommended by IAEA safety standards, with some activities partially implemented and many others already begun. The team found plant staff to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.
The teamâ"comprising nine experts from Belgium, Canada, Finland, Spain, Sweden Switzerland and the United Kingdom as well as two IAEA staff membersâ"identified several good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:
- The plant has implemented short-term trending of preventive maintenance activities, allowing for information to be validated and short-term abnormalities to be identified.
- Condition assessment reports in the mechanical area are well developed with regards to both traceability and completeness.
- The plant has revalidated Time Limited Ageing Analysis (TLAA) to confirm effective management of cumulative fatigue in certain areas.
The team also provided several recommendations for further enhancing LTO safety, including:
- The plant should improve LTO organizational arrangements and processes to ensure timely implementation of all activities to demonstrate preparedness for safe LTO.
- The plant should establish and consistently apply a clear and unambiguous scope setting methodology for LTO assessment.
- The plant should fully establish and implement a comprehensive equipment qualification programme.
The plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a SALTO mission in November 2020.
The team provided a draft report to the plant management at the end of the mission. The plant management and the Argentinian Nuclear Regulatory Authority will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, the regulatory authority and the Argentinian 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.