IAEA reviews long-term operation of Mexican plant

19 March 2019

Mexican state utility CFE (Comision Federal de Electricidad) has a good basis to manage the long-term operation of the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has found.

Laguna Verde (Image: HFStudios)

The 10-day SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) peer review mission was requested by state-owned utility CFE, which operates the two-unit plant, and was completed on 15 March. The review focused on aspects essential to the safe long term operation (LTO) of the two boiling water reactors. Laguna Verde 1 began commercial operation in 1990 and unit 2 in 1995. CFE has requested a 30-year extension beyond the units' current 30-year licence from Mexico's National Commission for Nuclear Safety and Safeguards.

The SALTO team of 10 experts from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Pakistan, Sweden and two IAEA staff members identified good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including: a user-friendly database to effectively manage plant technical documentation to support LTO; a monitoring system on fire water-pumps to help early detection of leakages; and an effective programme to transfer critical knowledge from employees leaving the plant.

To further enhance preparations for LTO safety, the team recommended that the operator should perform a comprehensive periodic safety review to identify potential safety improvements for LTO; ensure adequate process and documentation for determining the scope of structures, systems and components (SSCs) to be reviewed for LTO preparation; and perform a comprehensive condition assessment of all in-scope SSCs.

The plant's management is committed to implementing the recommendations and has requested that the IAEA schedule a SALTO follow-up mission to Laguna Verde in 2021.

A SALTO peer review addresses strategy and key elements for the safe long-term operation of nuclear power plants, complementing IAEA Operational Safety Review Team missions which review programmes and activities essential to operational safety.

Laguna Verde is Mexico's only operating nuclear power plant and provides about 4% of the country's electricity.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News