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IAEA Operational Safety Team Reviews Saint-Alban Nuclear Power Plant in France


Saint-Alban, France, 06 October 2010
| An international team of nuclear installation safety experts, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has reviewed safety practices at France's Saint-Alban Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and has highlighted a set of strong practices as well as a series of recommendations to reinforce them.

The IAEA assembled the team at the request of the Government of France to conduct an Operational Safety Review (OSART) of the Saint-Alban NPP. Under the leadership of the IAEA's Division of Nuclear Installation Safety in Vienna, the OSART team performed an in-depth operational safety review from 20 September to 6 October 2010. The team was made up of experts from Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA.

An OSART mission is designed to review programmes and activities essential to operational safety. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the plant's overall safety status.

The team at Saint-Alban conducted an in-depth review of the aspects essential to the safe operation of the NPP, which largely are under the control of the site management. The conclusions of the review are based on the IAEA's Safety Standards and proven good international practices.

The review covered the areas of Management, Organization and Administration; Training and Qualification; Operations; Maintenance; Technical Support; Operating Experience; Radiation Protection; Chemistry; and Emergency Planning and Preparedness.

The OSART team has identified good plant practices, which will be shared with the rest of the nuclear industry for consideration of their application. Examples include:

  • A safety guideline for outages;
  • The use of remote video surveillance of fuel inspection and handling activities;
  • A motivational tool for plant staff regarding the benefits of operating experience and associated corrective actions; and
  • Use of a sophisticated key control system to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to radioactive sources.

The team has made recommendations and suggestions related to areas where operational safety of Saint-Alban NPP could be improved. Examples include:

  • Limiting the extent of access to the Main Control Room to only the number of necessary personnel;
  • Minimizing the number and time validity of temporary modifications;
  • Undertaking the manipulation of reactivity in accordance with the best international practices; and
  • Improving the effective control of contamination.

Saint-Alban management expressed a determination to address all the areas identified for improvement and requested the IAEA to schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months time.

The team handed over a draft of their recommendations, suggestions and good practices to the plant management in the form of "Technical Notes" for factual comments. The technical notes will be reviewed at IAEA headquarters including any comments from Saint-Alban NPP and the French Nuclear Safety Authority. The final report will be submitted to the Government of France within three months.

This was the 158th mission of the OSART programme, which began in 1982.

General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA website: OSART missions