Chinese unit prepares for extended operation

15 June 2017

Workers at unit 1 of the Qinshan nuclear power plant in China's Zhejiang province have made significant progress in long-term operational safety, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team has concluded. The plant has applied to operate beyond its original 30-year design life.

Qinshan 1 - 460 (CNNC)
Qinshan 1 (Image: CNNC)

Qinshan 1 is China's first indigenously-designed and constructed nuclear power plant, although the pressure vessel was supplied by Japan's Mitsubishi. Design of the 300 MWe pressurised water reactor was by the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute. Construction work on the unit began in March 1985, with first grid connection in December 1991. The unit's current operating licence expires in 2021.

China's nuclear safety regulator - the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) - requires units to carry out a periodic safety review every ten years. The first such review was carried out at Qinshan 1 in 2001 and a second in 2014. The plant applied to NNSA last year to renew the licence for a further 20 years.

At the request of CNNP Nuclear Power Operations Management Company - the nuclear power plant operating subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation - the IAEA has conducted a Safety Aspects for Long Term Operation (SALTO) review mission to the plant.

The SALTO peer review mission is a comprehensive safety review directly addressing strategy and key elements of the safe long-term operation of nuclear power plants. The evaluation of programs and performance - including human resources and knowledge management - is made on the basis of the IAEA's Safety Standards and other guidance documents. A pre-SALTO mission in October 2015 reviewed programs and activities related to the long-term operation of Qinshan 1. That review team said it found "good progress" in preparation for the long-term operation of the plant.

A 12-member SALTO team - comprising experts from Argentina, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden the USA and the IAEA - has now completed a full SALTO review.

The team concluded that Qinshan 1 had made "significant progress" on ageing management and preparation for safe long-term operation. It said the plant's long-term operation project has "addressed most of the areas recommended by IAEA Safety Standards, and is addressing remaining topics".

The team identified several good practices and performances at the plant, including an organisational structure in place to support preparation for safe long-term operation. It also noted the plant had comprehensively implemented leak rate testing of containment isolation valves and has revalidated time-limited ageing analysis of mechanical components.

The IAEA mission also made a number of recommendations for improvements to long-term operational safety. It said Qinshan 1 should make its periodic safety review more comprehensive and should establish and implement a comprehensive environmental qualification program. The plant should also implement effective ageing management programs for civil structures and components.

The team provided a draft report of its conclusions to the plant management. A final report will be submitted to the plant, NNSA and the Chinese government within three months.

Qinshan 1 has requested the IAEA carry out a follow-up mission in about two years.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News