IAEA reviews long-term safety of Sweden's Forsmark plant

21 June 2019

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts yesterday completed a review of long-term operational safety at units 1 and 2 of Sweden's Forsmark nuclear power plant. The team assessed the plant's preparedness, organisation and programmes related to long-term operation against IAEA safety standards.

Units 1 and 2 of the Forsmark plant (Image: Vattenfall)

The SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) mission team focused on aspects essential to the safe long-term operation (LTO) of the two boiling water reactors, which began commercial operation in 1980 and 1981, respectively. The review mission - which began on 11 June - was requested by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).

Operator Vattenfall AB plans to extend the operating period of the units for a total of 60 years each. Although Swedish reactor operating licences are not time limited, consent to operate is subject to a periodic safety review submitted to SSM every 10 years.

The 12-member team - comprising experts from Japan, Finland, France, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain, the UK and three IAEA staff members - identified good practices and good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally. These included that the plant takes part in cooperation among Northern European nuclear power plants on sharing spare parts procurement and that the Forsmark plant maintains the condition and availability of spare parts through optimum storage solutions. The team also said the plant's staff planning initiatives promote it as an attractive employer.

Team leader Robert Krivanek, a senior nuclear safety officer at the IAEA, said: "We observed that the plant has made progress in ageing management activities and preparation for safe LTO since a Pre-SALTO mission in 2016. Ageing management and LTO activities already meet many IAEA safety standard recommendations." He added, "The SALTO team encourages the plant management to address findings made by the SALTO team and facilitate implementation of all remaining activities for safe LTO."

The team provided recommendations for further enhancing preparations for LTO safety, including that Vattenfall: implement a comprehensive organisational strategy to ensure LTO activities are carried out; ensure an adequate process for setting the scope of LTO; and, implement a comprehensive equipment qualification programme for all components important to safety.

The team provided a draft report to the plant management at the end of the mission. A final report will be submitted to the plant, SSM and the government within three months.

The plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a SALTO follow-up mission to Forsmark in 2021.

Bjorn Linde, CEO of Forsmark NPP said, "We appreciate IAEA support of our plant in ageing management and preparation for safe LTO. The results of this mission will help us to improve our activities for safe LTO and align them with IAEA safety standards."

A SALTO peer review is a comprehensive safety review addressing strategy and key elements for the safe long-term operation of nuclear power plants. SALTO missions complement IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) missions which are designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. SALTO peer reviews can be carried out at any time during the lifetime of a nuclear power plant, although according to the IAEA the most suitable time lies within the last ten years of the plant's originally foreseen operating period. SALTO and OSART reviews are carried out at the request of the IAEA member country in which the review is to take place.

In February 2008, the IAEA carried out a three-week OSART evaluation of Forsmark. The results indicated that Forsmark maintains a good international standard. The OSART team concluded that management and co-workers had improved operational reliability and the safety culture. A follow-up OSART review was performed a year later.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News