Aging management at Ringhals-3 has improved

September 21, 2020, 7:00AMNuclear News

A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency have completed a review of the long-term operational safety of Unit 3 at Sweden’s Ringhals nuclear power plant, noting substantial improvements from a previous agency visit in 2018.

The review, which had been requested by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), the Nordic nation’s nuclear regulator, wrapped up September 18.

According to the IAEA, the Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) team focused on aspects essential to the safe long-term operation (LTO) of Unit 3—a 1,062-MWe three-loop pressurized water reactor that entered commercial operation in September 1981. (Ringhals houses two additional operating reactors: Unit 1, an 881-MWe boiling water reactor that began operation in January 1976, and Unit 4, an 1,102-MWe PWR that started up in November 1983. Another unit, Ringhals-2, was permanently shut down at the end of last year.)

The original design lifetime of Unit 3 will expire next year, but Vattenfall AB, the plant operator, is planning to extend operation for a total operational lifetime of 60 years.

What they said: “The team observed that the operator is preparing Unit 3 for safe LTO in a timely manner,” said Robert Krivanek, SALTO team leader and IAEA senior nuclear safety officer. “Basing their efforts on recommendations made by the SALTO team in 2018, the plant has made significant improvements in the area of aging management and has shown continued commitment to preparing for safe LTO. The SALTO team encourages the plant management to address the remaining findings from the 2018 SALTO mission and implement all activities for safe LTO.”

More specifically: The team—consisting of two experts from Belgium and two IAEA staff members—said Vattenfall had:

■ Improved aging management of civil structures and buildings.

■ Improved plant processes to manage LTO activities and plant personnel awareness of aging management and LTO activities.

■ Completed a revalidation of time-limited aging analyses for mechanical components.

The team also concluded, however, that further work is necessary by Vattenfall to ensure that aging management and LTO-related data are consistent and complete and to establish a long-term staffing plan for LTO.

Next: Vattenfall and the SSM have received a draft report of the review, and they will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft, the IAEA said.

A final report is scheduled to be submitted to Vattenfall, the SSM, and the Swedish government within three months.

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