Long-term operation of China's oldest reactor assessed

17 May 2019

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has completed a review of long-term operational safety at unit 1 of the Qinshan nuclear power plant in China's Zhejiang province.

Qinshan 1 (Image: Hejiayuan)

Qinshan 1, a pressurised water reactor brought online in 1991, was the first nuclear power unit to be built in China. It was built using the country's own technologies. The reactor's generating capacity was recently uprated to 350 MWe (net) from its original 300 MWe. The plant is operated by China Nuclear Power Operations Management Co (CNNO), a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Power Co. CNNO has submitted an application to China's National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) to renew the plant's operating licence for a period of 20 years after its current licence expires in 2021.

A SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) peer review addresses strategy and key elements for the safe long-term operation (LTO) of nuclear power plants. SALTO missions complement IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) missions review 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 10 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.

A pre-SALTO mission in October 2015 reviewed programmes 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 SALTO team completed a full SALTO review in June 2017. 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".

A five-member mission team - comprising experts from Argentina, the Netherlands, Sweden, the USA and the IAEA - has now reviewed CNNO's response to recommendations and suggestions made during the initial SALTO mission in 2017. The follow-up mission began on 7 May and was completed on 10 May.

The team said CNNO had improved coordination among current plant operational and ageing management programmes, and had implemented ageing management programmes for electrical, instrumentation and control components. The operator had also improved competence and knowledge management processes.

The team noted that further work is necessary to complete a periodic safety review and implement an environmental qualification programme.

The IAEA said plant management expressed determination to continue to address the remaining issues and prepare Qinshan 1 for safe long-term operation.

The mission team provided a draft report to the plant management and the NNSA, which will be able to make factual comments on it. A final report will then be submitted to them and the Chinese Government within three months.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News